John Quinn, 70, from Wynnum lives with younger onset dementia. Like many people living with dementia, John has faced some significant challenges as a result of COVID-19. But his message during Dementia Awareness Week is clear – there is light at the end of the tunnel.
John and his partner Glenys Petrie work with Centacare as part of a local dementia alliance aimed at creating a more accessible and inclusive community for those living with dementia.
COVID-19 restrictions and the closure of services had somewhat of an impact on John’s quality of life.
“I’m quite a social person and I find it beneficial to get out in my community,” said John.
“Normally I’d go up to the shops and on the way back sometimes call into the local coffee shop. I also enjoy swimming so I missed being able to visit the local pool. Many of the social activities that I was accustomed to were taken away during COVID.”
Recognising the devastating effects of prolonged physical separation and isolation on people living with dementia, Centacare introduced a number of new ways to provide services and support. This included regular In Touch phone calls or video calls, which has been a great way to help clients feel safe and connected.
Centacare’s Memory Cafes will begin to reopen across South East Queensland in the coming months. John said the cafes were a wonderful opportunity for people living with dementia and their carers to connect with others in a welcoming and safe environment.
Some of John and Glenys’ work with Centacare involves engaging younger generations to help “change the narrative” around dementia. They recently shared their lived experience with Year 12 students at Iona College and have been invited to present to students studying a Masters of Gerontology at Queensland University of Technology.
“We believe younger people are the agents of change for the future,” said John.
“We’re educating them on what it’s like living with dementia and what it’s like caring for someone with dementia. This way we can start to change the stigma that goes along with the diagnosis.
“There’s too many doom and gloom stories around dementia. It’s possible to live well with dementia. You just need the right support to adapt to living with it.”
John’s love of physical activity extends into his advocacy work through his participation in the Moreton Bay Dementia Alliance’s ‘Walk With Me’ virtual walk – an online alternative to its traditional annual three-kilometre walk in the Moreton Bay region during Dementia Awareness Week.
“The idea of ‘Walk With Me’ is to get the message out to people living with dementia that they’re not alone,” said John.
“This sentiment is more important now than ever. For those people living in isolation during the pandemic, we are with you.”
To learn more about ‘Walk With Me’, visit the website.
To learn more about Centacare’s Memory Cafes and other services for people living with dementia, contact 1300 236 822.