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What does a person with dementia look like?

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Thursday, March 28, 2019 - 10:15 to 10:30

John Quinn was diagnosed with Younger Onset Dementia after seven years of incorrect diagnoses and inappropriate medications. He lost his 35 year long career in education; had no purpose in life; and, became seriously depressed. A lengthy and positive discussion with Ita Buttrose was the turning point in his attitude to his diagnosis. He walked around the house for the next four days saying nothing more than, “I can do this. I can live well with dementia”. 

This timely meeting with Ita was the catalyst for John to do his own research about dementia. As a result, John incorporated certain life-style choices into his daily routine. He had exercise covered. However, he was neglecting other equally valid disease modifying interventions which evidence based and/or anecdotal findings have demonstrated can slow down the progression of dementia. John developed an acronym, N.A.M.E.S. to encapsulate these life-style considerations.

John will highlight the need to move beyond the bio-medical model of dementia which initially shaped his thinking. He will demonstrate how, that with support and adaptations to his life, he now realises that he can live well with dementia. He doesn’t fit the typical stereotype of ‘What a Person living with dementia looks like.’ Telling his story is helping to challenge the established beliefs, and change the narrative about dementia. This will help reduce the stigma and offer people of all ages some hope after diagnosis. 

He believes that dementia should be viewed through a number of lenses, and not only focus on the symptoms. He wants to feel useful, and not be restricted by, or reduced to, his diagnosis. John says that he is not just another statistic.

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