Waltzing Matilda

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I wanted to share a ‘magical moment’ in the nursing home yesterday. I was rounding up men for Men’s Group in the large communal room where the residents were watching none other than ‘Andre Rieu- Live in Melbourne’ DVD.

I walked past a tiny older lady who was sitting in front of the tv, and noticed she had a ‘twinkle in her eye’. She summonsed me over with her index finger. I bent down to say ‘hello’ when she cheekily blurted out “Let’s just say ..You are all mine sweetheart… and I would be most honoured if you could take me for a dance?”

I replied… “ Sure …it would be an honour to waltz with you ‘..

I reached out to her very formally and we began to waltz in front of the other residents. We did this for about 2 minutes, and the smile on her face was priceless. After our waltz I put her arm inside my arm and I formally accompanied her back to her chair.

As I lead her back she said to me “ Why thank you kind sir for the dance… it was indeed an honour, and most enjoyable”.

It certainly made me smile but as she was about to sit down another lady started to get up out of her chair. My dance partner then pushed the other lady in the chest knocking her back into her chair.

She then hissed at the lady … “BACK OFF!…. He’s all mine!”..

….This is Dementia…100% true story)

Discussions in Dementia – *Coming Soon

Discussions in Dementia

Welcome to the innovative new podcast series that delves into the highs and lows of caring for people of all ages who are battling dementia.

Tune in to me chatting with everyday Australians as they navigate the ever changing landscape of dementia.

I will be talking with family caregivers, paid carers, nurses, doctors, dementia trainers & people with dementia. Each person will have a unique and different story to tell as they candidly discuss all things dementia.

Why do a podcast? …

To give people an inside look into the lives of Australians from all walks of life impacted by dementia across  ‘tell all’ 30 minute segments. You will be able to click on a link and play each interview at your leisure. All podcasts will be placed on the Dementia Downunder (DD) website for easy reference under the ‘podcast’ tab.

What is different about the podcasts?

They allow the ‘real stories’ behind dementia to come to the surface. There is so much stigma associated with dementia and these podcasts will weave across many relevant topics and even dip into some ‘taboo’ topics and traditional ‘no-go zones’.  The interview format is really informal and is pretty much a couch chat over a coffee.

Conversations are recorded at our Woodside Studio and are a great way to discover how to positively overcome the challenges facing Australian families.You can even listen to them as you drive to or from work.

SUBSCRIBE NOW! – To receive the first podcast in your ‘inbox’ when released in late January.

 

 

Diffusing Anger in Dementia Care

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This post is probably not what you expect.

Doing it for Dementia……”Thank you” for the Nomination

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I received an email today advising me that I have been nominated for a ‘2018 Pride of Australia’ medal. I am really humbled to be nominated, and do not have a clue who kindly put me forward?

Personal accolades is not what I am about, but I do feel privileged as I get so much happiness from making a person with dementia smile. I love it when we find a new way to allow a person with dementia to engage in an activity that others may have thought was not possible.

These people matter….every single one of them! We just need to tap into them and bring out the amazing memories and wisdom that may be locked away.

There is still a mountain of work to be done and I will never give up. I want people with dementia to be given the highest priority, with the best available care, and the most dignity possible.

So I just want to sincerely say “thank you” to the person who nominated me, and if I am successful I will certainly take the opportunity to talk about dementia and create as much awareness as I can.

PS – Late breaking news – I have just been advised that I have now made the finals!…fingers crossed.

‘Dementia Downunder’ Milestone……Officially Reached.

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I am really proud about reaching 1000 members for Dementia Downunder. It shows that ‘DD’ is a valuable resource required in the community to help families and carers impacted by Dementia.

When I started ‘DD’ 3 years ago I remember thinking to myself “I wonder how many people could benefit from this?”…..Little did I know how many … and how much I would personally change and positively grow as a person! It also enabled me to have an even more amazing relationship with my Dad ( we hung out more and learnt new ways to communicate).

Thank you to all of you for sharing your stories and supporting each other. I know when my dad was alive it was really therapeutic to share amongst people who were going through similar things.

Dementia care is a very involved and confusing process that is completely individual to each person. It requires carers , nurses and family members to think on their feet and advocate for the person with Dementia at every opportunity.

Dementia is different!….

I sincerely thank you for making the effort to learn more about Dementia via Dementia Downunder to ultimately provide better care.

People with Dementia are still valuable and we need to continue to adapt to them to allow themselves to feel valued and live positive and fulfilling lives.

“Thank You!”….

The Magic Came….And Kept On Coming

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After such an amazing first day of the national Dementia conference, I thought today would probably be ‘middle of the road’.

Man, was I wrong….?

I had the most amazing session with Naomi Feil who almost needed an ‘Adults Only ‘ rating on her session as she let rip with some very colourful language ( totally appropriately of course) to demonstrate and role play what life is like for someone with Dementia.

Naomi also connected with her audience like no-one I have seen. I was totally magnetised by her and could not write my notes quick enough.

Naomi teaches validation techniques and I totally connected with this method. When she finished I had to meet her and give her my card and have a photo taken together. I felt she had an ‘aura’ and I asked for a hug from her hoping to gain some of her magic.

I then met an amazing advocate called Susan Ryan who really connected with me and we shared incredible personal stories. We ran out of time to chat so this dialogue will continue.

Next was a 5 minute free shoulder massage from the ladies in the purple shirts. How refreshing!… I certainly needed it. Thanks…

I chatted with Prof Richard Fleming who is involved at UTAS ( University of Tasmania) , Dementia publications, plus a whole other host of initiatives.I found him really accommodating and I am sure to learn more from him in the future.

I was a bit tired from the seminars and too many words on the PowerPoint presentations so decided to try some virtuality reality(vr) programs at Hammond Care. They had a fabulous VR program to demonstrate what aged care environments look like from the person with Dementia’s perspective. Eg what white toilet seats look like in a white bathroom.
I learnt so much about why people react the way they do and often is caused by their environment. This info from Tim was invaluable.

I then went to an info booth selling Souvenaid, a nutritional product. The amazing thing was that the guy on the stand was Rod Fanner who almost had the carbon copy experiences as me with his dad who had Dementia. He followed his passion with his advocacy, and I am very excited to be continuing our discussions to see what we can do when we compare notes.

While chatting with Rod he then calls over a lady for me to meet, who is one of the most reputable geriatricians in South Australia – Jane Hecker. This was an invaluable chat and Adelaide is certainly a small world.

So there you have it, another action packed and informative day.

Last day tomorrow!

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Oh Wow!…I Found My Email to Christine Bryden

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Am so excited, I just found my original email to Christine Bryden. I have not seen it since I wrote it almost 3 years ago.

In my usual raw and open style I would like to share with you what I wrote (I am sure Christine won’t mind). What is amazing is that this week I fulfilled the dream I had in the email to meet Christine.

MY EMAIL TO CHRISTINE:

Dear Christine, 

My name is Brett Partington and I have been compelled to contact you ever since you were profiled on Australian Story on the ABC.Congratulations on your incredible achievements and inspirational story, as well as being the ‘leading voice of Alzheimer’s in Australia’. 

I have a very strong passion to follow in your footsteps in being ‘another voice’ for people with dementia. I have long term aspirations to write a book one day, but more importantly make a difference to so many people who aren’t being heard…right now. I am not even sure what is driving me to throw myself into this arena, how I am going to do it, or where it will end up? What I do know is that I have a lot of passion and drive, and really care about people with dementia.

I am not an academic, I have no healthcare experience, and to be completely honest I knew absolutely nothing about dementia until just under 12 months ago when I discovered my Dad had Alzheimer’s ( He was diagnosed 18 months earlier but I was unaware of this fact). My learning curve in this time has been vertical and I simply cannot get enough information on the subject. My areas of interest are early onset dementia as well as creating awareness in the community and breaking down the stigmas associated with people with dementia. I believe the fact I am prepared to share our ‘warts and all’ story may be a unique and interesting way to gain dementia awareness traction in the community. The fact I am just an ordinary person who has had this disease come out of nowhere and change our family situation in a very short time, may resonate with lots of other families and be a different path to raising awareness in the community.

My Dad ( Robert Partington) has Alzheimer’s and is currently 70 years old. He is the youngest 
person in the Memory Support Unit of his Eldercare Aged Care Home in Adelaide. We are battling with Dad’s degradation each day, and even though he is becoming weaker and losing his memories, I seem to be gaining strength, knowledge and determination to help other families dealing with the disease. My main drive is to simply help the average Australian person understand the impact of dementia on families, and ensure people with dementia are treated with dignity and respect. 

The Partington family are ‘born communicators’ who are compassionate and intuitive, and get along with people from all walks of life. I seem to be making an impact on my close friends and 
family by sharing our good and bad experiences in a raw and open manner, which allows them to gain insight and actually feel like they are on the journey with us. I am hoping I can get a similar result to a wider audience by somehow using my ‘down to earth’ approach.I am documenting my day to day experiences with Dad so I can actually soak up what has happened at a later date, as I am so close to the action I almost feel like I am a resident in the nursing home. 

What is different about me is that I have thrown myself into volunteering for Alzheimer’s Australia to possibly speak to community groups etc in the near future, and I am also currently volunteering at my Dad’s nursing home running the ‘Men’s Group’. This has allowed me to further understand dementia ‘first hand’, and also gain insight into the inner workings of an aged care home.

I visit Dad 5-6 days per week and assist with washing, medication, and daily requirements. I originally had no idea what went on in a nursing home, and never dreamed I would be caring for Dad on such a 
close level. My long term aim is to hopefully one day help to gain purpose built ‘age specific’ care facilities for people with early onset dementia. This is so badly needed in my opinion. 

I was hoping to possibly meet you one day for a chat to find out more about your amazing work and see if you could assist me in finding the best way to use my raw skills to benefit Alzheimer’s Australia. I think you are doing an amazing job as a spokesperson and we need to encourage others to carry on your fabulous groundbreaking work. 

I live in Adelaide but do travel interstate from time to time, so hopefully I can meet you face to face one day. I am really keen to get your feedback on how I should go about making maximum impact as quickly as possible. I also have very strong links with Virtual Reality technology ( sometimes 
used in creating experiences for people with dementia) and I also play drums in a 10 piece dance band called ‘The Holeproofs’ that are prepared to donate a local show to fundraise money for the cause.

I am 46 years old and work with 15 fabulous ladies every day as Managing Director of a national award winning retail fashion store called ‘Sydney Street’.

Christine, you are such a trailblazer and an influential person and it is this ‘magic’ that I want to hopefully learn from you one day.I would imagine that you are very busy and I thank you for taking the time to read my email. I look forward to reading your books in the very near future also. 

Regards 
Brett Partington

Am Totally Humbled…..Thankyou Dementia Australia!

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Today I was honoured to be part of the launch for the new name and branding for Alzheimer’s Australia – which is now Dementia Australia.

I was able to be on stage at the national conference with executives including an idol of mine Christine Bryden (advocate). I am also on the plaque which will be featured in every Dementia Australia office in each state.

I am proud of this as it is a legacy of my Dad’s battle with Dementia and the ceremony was very touching with Prof Graeme Samuel becoming emotional on the microphone and saying to me “Your Dad would be so proud of you”. I almost lost it at this point and it was truly a magical moment in my life.

I met so many people today,learnt heaps and was able to mingle with the’ big hitters’ in Australian Dementia Care.

An exhausting but fabulous first day!

What will tomorrow bring????

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Interstate ‘Meet up’ Drinks – Melbourne

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A new first for Dementia Downunder – by having our first interstate ‘meet up’.

A great time was had by all prior to the national dementia conference with some drinks and chat in the Lobby Bar of the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

I must say ‘thank you’ to everyone for attending and for being so open and honest about how Dementia impacts on each of you.

I learnt so much in those few hours it was incredible. Good luck to everyone who is presenting a speech or digital poster at the conference.

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