Australian of the year 2017 – National finalist – Kate Swaffer

kateswaffer

Kate Swaffer

As we wait for the announcement of  Australian of the year* this post looks at some of the writings of deserving nominee and South Australian of the Year,  Kate Swaffer.

A humanitarian, advocate and activist for people with dementia, Kate Swaffer was diagnosed with the disease in 2008, just before her 50th birthday. Refusing to be defeated by the diagnosis, Kate has helped redefine the way the world views dementia .

An accomplished author and poet, Kate has written blogs,  books and articles advocating for life beyond a diagnosis of dementia. Kate’s writings  provide an invaluable insight into one person’s journey and thoughts about living with dementia.

*2017 Australian of the Year will be announced on the eve of Australia Day, Wednesday 25th January. Congratulations and all the best to all nominees.

Kate’s blog


kateswaffer_blog2017
A recent 2017 post is a great revisiting of some of the topics Kate has covered over the years.

Ramblings from the past, as I think about 2017…

 

 

 

 

Book: What the Hell Happened to My Brain? : Living beyond dementia  /  By Kate Swaffer  (2016)

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With chapter headings such as Why me, why this, why now?; The dementia train and not sweating the small stuff and Reactions to dementia: yours, mine, others Kate tackles head-on stigma, inadequacies in care and support, and the media’s role in perpetuating myths about dementia, suggesting ways in which we can include and empower people with the diagnosis. She also reflects on the ways in which her writing and dementia advocacy work have taken her on a process of self-discovery and enabled her to develop a new and meaningful personal identity.

 

Editorial: Dementia and Prescribed Disengagement™  /  Kate Swaffer
Dementia: the international journal of social research and practice, Vol. 14, No. 1, January 2015, p.3-6

dementia journalFollowing a diagnosis of dementia, most health care professionals, including neurologists, geriatricians, physicians, general practitioners, and dementia service providers prescribe giving up a pre-diagnosis life and put all the planning in place for the demise of the person newly diagnosed with dementia such as wills, powers of guardianship and other end of life issues. I was told ‘to give up work, give up study, and to go home and live for the time I had left’. By 2009, I had termed this Prescribed Dis-engagementTM, and I ultimately chose to ignore it. One has to ask the question: Why is it that one day I was studying a tertiary degree, working full time, volunteering, raising a family and running a household with my husband, and the next day, told to give it all up, to give up life as I knew it, and start ‘living’ for the time I had left?..  Access full text

Article: Not just a ‘challenging behaviour’  /  Kate Swaffer
Australian Journal of Dementia Care, Vol. 4 No. 3 June/July 2015, p.21-24

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Kate highlights her concerns that widespread use of the terms ‘challenging behaviours’ and ‘Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia’ (BPSD), over-perscription of antipsychotic medications and the guidelines used to ‘manage’ BPSD are having a negative impact on care, whilst fuelling stigma and discrimination.

 

Article: Reinvesting in life is the best prescription  /  Kate Swaffer
Australian Journal of Dementia Care, Vol.3, No. 6, December 2014/January 2015, p.31-32

ajdc_dec14jan15When Kate Swaffer was diagnosed with younger onset dementia, she was advised to give up work, study and life as she knew it, put her affairs in order and investigate aged care options. Instead, she ignored this ‘Prescribed Disengagement™’ as she terms it, and reinvested in life – something she recommends to everyone who has been diagnosed with dementia.

 

Book: Diagnosed with Alzheimers or another dementia  /  Kate Swaffer & Lee-Fay Low  (2016)

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This book is an affirmation that dementia is a word not a sentence. A diagnosis is the beginning of a new phase, one that most of us fear, but one that can be met and challenged. There is so much that we – people with dementia, family care partners, friends, or aged care and health workers – can all do to maximise a positive life for many years.” (from introduction by Prof Henry Brodarty)

 

 

To find a full list of Kate’s books, articles, poetry and presentations go to her website

https://kateswaffer.com/cv/

 

 

Free Community Seminars on Dementia

PrintDuring 2015 there are a number of free community seminars offered by Alzheimer’s Australia which may help you understand dementia better and/or implement simple changes which can make a big difference to a person with dementia?

Note: the seminars posted here are for Victoria, if you are interested in finding out more about Community Seminars for other Australian states, please contact your local Alzheimer’s Australia office.

How dementia-friendly is your home?

Join us to examine some simple and practical design solutions that you can implement in your own home to create a dementia-friendly environment. Learn how elements such as lighting, sound and colour can be effectively used to create a calm and enabling environment. The implementation of which, may make a significant difference to the quality of life and wellbeing for a person living with dementia.

This seminar is suitable for the general community which may also include health professionals, family carers and people with dementia.

Where? Caulfield Park Pavilion, Balaclava Road, Caulfield VIC 3162

When? Wednesday, 15 April 2015

2:45pm – 3:00pm – Registration and refreshment,

3:00pm – 4:00pm – Seminar,

4:00pm – 4:30pm – Question time

Speaker: Terri Preece, Assistant Course Developer, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic

Book online: https://caulfield.eventarc.com/26264

Advances in the early diagnosis of dementia: challenges and opportunities.

The diagnosis of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease is now much more precise. Whilst our knowledge of the dementias and their subtypes has evolved, we can now use developments including brain imaging and neuropsychological testing to “rule in” these specific diagnoses rather than ‘rule out’ other conditions. In a specialist centre or through a specialist in the diagnosis of cognitive disorders, a precise diagnosis can be made in the vast majority of cases.

This seminar is suitable for the general community which may also include health professionals, family carers and anyone with memory concerns.

Where? Yarra Room, Melbourne Town Hall, 90-120 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

When? Tuesday, 19 May 2015

5:20pm – 5:40pm       Registration and refreshment

5:40pm – 6:40pm       Seminar

6:40pm – 7:10pm       Question time

Speaker: Associate Professor Michael Woodward, Director – Aged Care, Austin Health

Book online: https://melbourne.eventarc.com/26266

Dementia – Breaking down the Myths

Join us to find out what dementia is and what it is not. This seminar will explain, in simple terms, what dementia is including main causes, especially Alzheimer’s disease, key signs and symptoms and risk factors. It will also explain why changes to behaviour occur. Common myths and misconceptions about dementia will be addressed as well as concerns you might have. In addition, the seminar will explain the importance of seeking a diagnosis if noticing changes and how you can access further information as well as appropriate support and services if and when needed.

This seminar is suitable for the general community which may also include health professionals, family carers and people with dementia.

Where? Warracknabeal Community Centre, Anzac Park, Scott St, Warracknabeal VIC 3393

When? Tuesday, 16 June 2015

2:45pm – 3:00pm – Registration and refreshment,

3:00pm – 4:00pm – Seminar,

4:00pm – 4:30pm – Question time

Speaker: Garrie O’Toole, Facilitator, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic

Book online: https://warracknabeal.eventarc.com/26268

Your Brain Matters

How adopting a healthier lifestyle approach will improve your brain health and may reduce your risk of developing dementia.

This seminar is suitable for the general community which may also include health professionals, family carers and people with dementia.

Where? Quantin Binnah Community Centre, 61 Thames Boulevard, Werribee VIC 3030, Australia

When? Tuesday, 4 August 2015

19:30 – 19:45   Registration and refreshment

19:45 – 20:45   Seminar

20:45 – 21:15   Question time

Speaker: Andrew Italia, Facilitator, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic

Book online: https://werribee.eventarc.com/29119

Bookings close: Tuesday, 28 July 2015

 Your Brain Matters

How adopting a healthier lifestyle approach will improve your brain health and may reduce your risk of developing dementia.

This seminar is suitable for the general community which may also include health professionals, family carers and anyone with memory concerns.

Where? Balla Ball Community Centre, Building 03, Casey Indoor Leisure Complex, 65 Berwick Cranbourne Road, Cranbourne East VIC 3977

When? Thursday, 8 October 2015

10:00 – 10:15   Registration and refreshment

10:15 – 11:15   Seminar

11:15 – 11:45   Question time

Speaker: Emma Dabb, Facilitator, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic

Book online: https://cranbourne.eventarc.com/29120

Bookings close: Thursday, 1 October 2015

Worried About Your Memory

Join us to find out:

how memory works, common memory changes that occur with ageing, health factors that can impact on memory function and when memory difficulties need to be investigated. This session will also provide tips on how to improve your memory.

This seminar is suitable for the general community which may also include health professionals, family carers and people with dementia.

Where? The Wodonga Cube, 118 Hovell Street, Wodonga VIC 3690, Australia

When? Wednesday, 21 October 2015

2:45pm – 3:00pm – Registration and refreshment,

3:00pm – 4:00pm – Seminar,

4:00pm – 4:30pm – Question time

Speaker: Laurel Gourlay, Community Education Coordinator, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic

Book online: https://wodonga.eventarc.com/29444

Bookings close: Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Dementia – Breaking down the Myths

Join us to find out what dementia is and what it is not. This seminar will explain, in simple terms, what dementia is including main causes, especially Alzheimer’s disease, key signs and symptoms and risk factors. It will also explain why changes to behaviour occur. Common myths and misconceptions about dementia will be addressed as well as concerns you might have. In addition, the seminar will explain the importance of seeking a diagnosis if noticing changes and how you can access further information as well as appropriate support and services if and when needed.

This seminar is suitable for the general community which may also include health professionals, family carers and people with dementia.

Where? Neerim District Cricket Club, 17 Neerim East Road, Neerim South VIC 3831

When? Wednesday, 2 December 2015

2:45pm – 3:00pm – Registration and refreshment,

3:00pm – 4:00pm – Seminar,

4:00pm – 4:30pm – Question time

Speaker: Michelle Foster, Facilitator, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic

Book online: https://neerimsouth.eventarc.com/29507

Bookings close: Wednesday, 25 November 2015