Coffs seniors gather for a day of talks on dementia
AUSTRALIANS are living longer, but they are not clocking up those extra years without disability, Dr Vaibhav Tyagi told a packed audience of seniors at Coffs Harbour recently.
The specialist geriatrician was the keynote speaker at a full day of talks on dementia which attracted more than 200 people to C.ex Coffs to listen to doctors, nurses, dieticians, pharmacists, optometrists, podiatrists, dental hygienists, audiologists, dementia and aged care advisers, fitness specialists, speech pathologists, assistive technology advisers and exercise physiologists.
The large attendance at what was an intense all-day experience demonstrates the widespread concern which dementia evokes among seniors.
Dementia is the second leading cause of death after heart failure for people over 65, Dr Helena Johnston told the gathering.
The audience included people diagnosed with dementia and their carers, as well as many more people wanting to hear about diagnosis, processes, risks and preventive and delaying measures for dementia onset as well as the various conditions often grouped together under that label.
Dr Vaibhav Tyagi said while life expectancy for women and men was pushing well into the 80s, life lived without any disabilities was much shorter, typically lasting only until the 60s.
Regular exercise, good nutrition to maintain a healthy weight, a social and purposeful life filled with mental stimulation; paying attention to both your physical and mental health and making full use of the services available were messages hammered home by the 19 speakers on the day.
The different types of dementia, warning signs, risk factors and how to reduce the risk of developing dementia were covered as was scientific and practical information to be applied to the everyday care of people with dementia, many of whom are living at home with partners or children.
Wills, guardianship, power of attorney, medicines and their management and assistive technology were among other aspects of care were also touched on.
Questions from the audience included queries about depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder; how to treat delusions; under-staffing and lack of specialised knowledge in nursing homes and the failure of many GPs to discuss in detail with carers the consequences of dementia.
Attendees Ken and Elaine Rae said they were impressed with the quality and quantity of information they had received.
"I heard a lot of things I didn't know before,” Ken said.
"I was concerned beforehand because I thought it would be commercial but it was not at all (commercial).
"The room was full of people, but there were a lot more who should have been here,” Elaine said.
Following the outstanding success of the day, Dr Tyagi now hopes to start a priority health prevention community group to focus on five major health problems.