Offering help with dementia

ROCKHAMPTON woman Gwen Simpson is the type of person who cannot "do nothing''.

The chairwoman of the board for Alzheimer's Australia Inc. Central Queensland is constantly devoting her time to community projects.

However it is Alzheimer's Australia that gets the majority of the kind-hearted woman's time.

"I had an experience with my father with Alzheimer's,'' she said.

"That is how I got into it.''

Mrs Simpson said her involvement with the Central Queensland branch of Alzheimer's Australia started when an expert in the field identified there was a lack of help for carers and sufferers of the disease in Rockhampton.

"He saw the problem and rang me to get some help,'' she said.

"We wanted to identify the gaps that existed in our area.''

Alzheimer's is the most well known type of dementia.

She said she knew from her own personal experience with her father, often the most difficult part of caring for a person affected by Alzheimer's was to acknowledge there was a problem.

"I looked at him as my dad, and I didn't see him as a senior person with dementia,'' Mrs Simpson said, reflecting on her time with her father.

"Down the track, you sort of know in your own heart it isn't going to get better.

"I had to learn it was quite all right to ask for help.''

This is the message she would like to get across to the Rockhampton community ? help for those affected by dementia is available.

Mrs Simpson has been instrumental in obtaining Federal Government funding to set up a dementia centre in Rockhampton.

The Dementia and Memory Community Centre will open at 238 Richardson Road (behind the respite centre) in February 2006. She said Federal Minister for aging, Bronwyn Bishop was set to open the centre.

"Our forward plan now is to open the centre at around about the first of February,'' Mrs Simpson said.

"I'd ask the community to see if they can get behind Alzheimer's Australia Central Queensland.

"It is a bit like motherhood ? you don't know what it is like until you are in the situation.''

The Rockhampton local said patience was the key to caring for people with dementia.

"You have got to have patience and give them the dignity they deserve,'' she said.

"Don't mind the things they don't remember, be thankful for what they do.

"You have to get right back to basics.''

Mrs Simpson is also actively involved with Lifeline, Friends of North Rockhampton and the Safe and Confident Living Group. To volunteer for Alzheimer's Australia Central Queensland or for further information please phone 4922 3327.

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