I know you must also be going through a tough time at the moment, but what I have to say concerns you as an Alzheimer’s WA supporter.
We are committed to support everyone who needs us during this crisis, but I urgently need your help to continue delivering services to people living with dementia now, and also into the future. Please will you make an extraordinary gift today?
I speak to our team members and clients daily, and they are scared. This is why I will not leave anyone who needs help without a service. Alzheimer’s WA is changing the way we work to keep the people who rely on us safe.
We are adapting our services as fast as we can to make sure people living with dementia and their families do not become even more isolated. Social isolation can have a devastating effect on a person with dementia, and this can greatly increase the stress and demands on their family.
As our organisation makes the mammoth effort to change the way we provide services to vulnerable people, I know it will cost more. More training. More resources. More one-on-one therapy and support for the people who need us most.
A gift right now will help ensure we can be there for people living with dementia during this crisis, please donate here.
Never before in our history has the need been so great. Never before have I needed your help more than now.
Despite all the change and uncertainty around right now, one thing remains certain. Around 25 people will be diagnosed with dementia every day in Western Australia, and these people will need specialist and individualised support.
As one of our most valued supporters, I’m sure you know how important it is for people with dementia to be able to access individual, one on one support. I cannot stress how vital this is. By getting to know the person rather than looking at just the disease, Alzheimer’s WA can provide services tailored to that person and their family.
For every person we support, we don’t just know their name and how they like their cup of tea. We see the person before the disease. Take for instance Neil, a person living with dementia, and his wife Susan. We know that Neil worked all his life as a wood machinist, and doesn’t like to spend his time sitting around in front of the TV. We know that Neil would much prefer to spend time one on one with our volunteer in the Men’s Shed, sharing his skills and expertise.
Unfortunately, the onset of Coronavirus means right now Neil is unable to spend time in the Men’s Shed as he normally would, and when you are living with dementia that kind of change is hard to understand. It can bring with it feelings of isolation, even depression.
To overcome this, we are now contacting Neil and Susan (and every one of our clients) on a weekly basis to find out how we can help. Whether that be a friendly person to chat to when they don’t know where else to turn, support to complete essential every day tasks, or some regular companionship. No one should have to go through this journey alone.
Let me tell you more about Neil and Susan. As I mentioned earlier, Neil worked as a wood machinist from the age of 15, and later on he became the supervisor of a timber company. But Neil was forced into early retirement by a diagnosis of dementia over 10 years ago when he was only 63 years old.
Neil’s wife Susan recalled, “Neil unfortunately can’t remember how he felt when first diagnosed but I can. I remember the early discussions with his neurologist, the not knowing what the test results would show. There was always the unknown.”
“Never did I think I would face this a second time as unfortunately my mother was also diagnosed with dementia.”
During an ACAT assessment, Neil and Susan found out about Alzheimer’s WA and the services on offer to support them both. Susan said after an initial phone conversation with Alzheimer’s WA, and because of Neil’s work history and passion for woodwork, it was suggested he might enjoy one on one support from one of our volunteers who is also a keen woodworker.
“Neil found a connection with Alzheimer’s WA volunteer Terry, and over time they formed a strong bond over their shared skills in woodworking.”
“Neil still retains some of his skills as a machinist and he finds working in the Men’s Shed very enjoyable. Having that one on one connection with Terry made a difference to both of us, and it helped me no end.”
Susan said after Neil spends time with Terry he is much more interactive. His interest in woodwork had been re-ignited, and Susan felt she had gained an extended family who she can talk to at any time. But due to the current crisis, Neil is unable to work with Terry in the Men’s Shed for the foreseeable future.
“Coronavirus has affected our life. We have both had to adapt to the changes. I can see already Neil misses his time with Terry.”
“As we are all unsure how long this horrendous event will continue for, I am extremely grateful for alternate services Alzheimer’s WA has offered us. I think it would benefit Neil to have phone contact with Terry.”
It is really hard for me to say this, but I am worried. The services we provide to people living with dementia are under threat from the Coronavirus pandemic. Be assured we will continue to deliver what we can for as long as we can. However, now more than ever people like Neil and Susan need your help to ensure they can continue to access the individual support that makes such a difference for people living with dementia, and their families, especially in times of unprecedented crisis like this.
Please give what you can. No matter how small, every donation will help.
Yours, with deepest gratitude
Chief Executive Officer, Alzheimer’s WA