27 C
Byron Shire
April 21, 2021

Creating dementia-friendly communities

Latest News

Local youth among those hardest hit by housing affordability crisis

A 20 per cent spike in rents is driving an increase in youth homelessness across the North Coast, the organisers of a national campaign to end homelessness say.

Other News

Pottsville policing forum asks the hard questions

Members of the Pottsville and Tweed Coast community say that in response to an increase in criminal activity in the area and their request for increased police presence, they were hosting a police presentation at Pottsville.

Housing crisis and Council

Avital Sheffer, Mullumbimby Population growth in this Shire is inevitable like it or not. Those who are being pushed out by...

Unauthorised dwelling capital of the world!

Could Main Arm’s title as the Unauthorised Dwelling Capital of the World be under threat?

Byron Drag Racers World Record

The local AAA Racing motorcycle team have set a new world record in 100cc class, as well as a top national speed in 50cc class at the recent Australian Speed Week held at Salt Lake Gairdner, South Australia.

No accountability for proven police misconduct

On Australia Day in 1998, I was the legal observer for the ‘Nude Ain’t Rude’ rally at Belongil Beach.

Follow the buck$

JK Mckenna, Burringbar Give Fast Buck$ his own column in the paper. Let him speak. Let him be heard. Let’s also...

Jenni with Karen Harborow in front of a collaborative piece painted y five to six artists from the day centre in Brunswick Heads, all who are living with dementia. Photo Aslan Shand.

We often think of dementia as a loss of memory that happens to old people – but in fact it is more than that – and there are many people who are affected by early onset dementia as early as their 40s.

‘The Northern Rivers has a large population of people living with cognitive impairments and dementia,’ said Karen Harborow the Dementia-Friendly Communities activity coordinator at the Byron Shire Respite Service in Brunswick Heads.

‘A diagnosis of dementia, especially at a younger age – can be devastating and really isolating, but the right support in the early stages can make the world a brighter place for people and their loved-ones impacted by dementia in our region.’

What is dementia?

According to Dementia Australia it is a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain, it is not one specific disease. Dementia affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Brain function is affected enough to interfere with the person’s normal social or working life.

The most common causes include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Living in the community

While people with dementia remain living in the community, in their own home or with family and friends, there are a range of services and support available. These include respite for carers, home care, social support, day-centre programs, counselling for both carers and people with dementia and advice from dementia specialists.

Local resident Jenni, who has early on set dementia, says that, ‘When I first knew things weren’t right in my head and I was having a tough time, I got a bit of help to lean on, and I was introduced to available support.’

Jenni continues to live in her own home with her children and grandchildren but says she ‘didn’t know what to expect when I stopped working. It has been really good for me to hang out with other people, and useful for me to hear their stories.’

Working with local communities

Karen and Byron Shire Respite Service are currently working with Dementia Australia to help raise dementia awareness in the Northern Rivers.

‘It is concerning that some people with dementia and their carers living in our community are not accessing support for fear of judgemental attitudes and stigma associated around a diagnosis or suspected dementia.

‘We are currently working with local communities, businesses and individuals to become “Dementia Friends” and promote inclusiveness to improve the lives of people living with neurodegenerative conditions,’ said Karen.

‘Dementia-friendly communities can help reduce the stigma of dementia, as well as encourage people from diverse cultures including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex communities, people that are Culturally and linguistically diverse and people living with neurological diseases, to seek support and remain socially engaged, to live life to its fullest.’

‘Raising awareness and keeping physically and mentally active also helps to promote healthier living and reduce risk factors for dementia.’

To find out how to make your business and community dementia friendly go online or email Karen at [email protected]

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. It’s great to see this work being done to demystify the reality of dementia. We should be supporting people to have a good lives and continue participating in their communities as full citizens regardless of a diagnosis. Well done!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Fresh faces for Council elections

A very distinct, black flat-cap has just been thrown into the ring for the upcoming Byron Council elections, pegged for September 4.

Follow the buck$

JK Mckenna, Burringbar Give Fast Buck$ his own column in the paper. Let him speak. Let him be heard. Let’s also see some accountability from councils...

A bouquet for Lilac House

L Jenkins, Byron Bay Nicole Habrecht should receive free paint and brushes and a pat on the back from Council for maintaining her house in a...

Bruns boarding house showdown Thursday

The stage is set for a crucial debate over the Brunswick Heads ‘Corso’ development in Byron Council this week, with staff recommending that the developer’s revised plans be approved.