In Darwin a local group have provided the community with some food for thought through morning teas, lunches and a dinner. The aim of these events is to increase awareness of dementia and to make their community more dementia-friendly.
It started with monthly art workshops, held before and after a healthy lunch, at which people living with dementia shared their experiences and insight with volunteers and staff at Darwin Community Arts.
During the workshops, participants would create art in various mediums including canvas, clay, cloth and foam. There was also music therapy, laughing yoga, and drawing.
There was also plenty of chat, and volunteers and organisation members expressed how valuable the time spent was in furthering their knowledge about dementia and how to create a dementia-friendly community.
Workshop participants said there was pleasure in creating art and making new friends, as social isolation can be common for people living with dementia.
“It’s been good to start new friendships,” said Ollie, who lives with dementia.
“It’s hard to make friends sometimes and a good thing is being able to talk to the other people in the group.”
Colin, another workshop participant, enjoyed every minute.
“This program has been good. I look forward to it. That’s what it’s meant to me.
“My favourite thing we have done has been the laughing yoga. I like the exercise – I don’t get or do much exercise and it just made me feel good.
“I want to keep coming. It goes for a good amount of time and it doesn’t make me too tired.
“This is also a great group of people. We get on really well. I have for sure become friends with the other people in this group. We also help each other out, with finishing our activities and talking about what we are doing.”
In addition to the regular workshops and catchups over food, Darwin Community Arts, in conjunction with Dementia Australia, hosted a dinner for about 100 people.
During the night, there were musical performances and Dementia Australia staff were available to talk with anyone who had questions about dementia.
The Dementia-Friendly Communities workshops, made possible through a $15,000 Community Engagement Program grant from Dementia Australia, were run by Darwin Community Arts.
Volunteers have expressed their eagerness to continue the monthly workshops and Darwin Community Arts will continue to provide a space and resources for this initiative.
Are you interested in what this could look like in your community?
The first step is to become a Dementia Friend. Find out more at dementiafriendly.org.au or call our National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500.