Free Goulburn retreat events to equip carers and their loved ones living with dementia
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Living at home for as long as possible is the healthiest, happiest choice for most people living with dementia and their partners, or other family carers.
But, without effective methods for coping and caring, home living can be stressful for both carer and the person living with dementia, when that doesn’t need to be the case.
To support both carers and their loved ones who are dealing with the implications of dementia, HammondCare is running a series of innovative three-day/two-night retreat programs, developed by Dementia Support Australia (DSA), in 2024 at its Candlebark Overnight Respite Cottage, Quiberon Way, Goulbourn.
The first retreat is to go ahead next month on February 13-15, another is planned for June 11-13 followed by October 15-17.
The retreats, open to both carers and their loved ones living in the Southern Tablelands and Southern Highlands, are Australian Government-funded so there is no cost to participants include accommodation for a couple and fresh-cooked meals.
“Everyone wants to continue living at home,” says organiser Toni Anderson. “It’s our place of comfort, familiarity and security. That doesn’t change with a diagnosis of dementia – in fact, home is even more important.”
“Our Staying at Home program empowers people living with dementia and their carers to continue living together at home for as long as possible.”
Toni said there will be plenty of opportunity for “debriefing and sharing” about the challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia and practical and helpful information about available support services will be provided.
Goulburn carer Anne Craig, 76, and husband Douglas, 80, who is living with Parkinson’s Dementia, are looking forward to the February retreat.
“I was delighted to learn that this kind of support is out there for couples like us,” Anne said. “Programs like this are a great way to help carers improve their quality of life.”
Anne and her husband have lived most of their lives in the Southern Tablelands. They continue to be a part of the Goulburn community with Anne overseeing flowers at Mary Queen of Apostles Catholic Church.
Married for 57 happy years, the couple met at Taralga and for many years farmed in the Taralga area while raising five children, before relocating to Goulburn later in life.
Until well into his 70s, Douglas continued to work Crookwell Taralga Aged Care (now Uniting Taralga) in his role as the grounds and facility maintenance man. He had a wonderful connection with the residents during this time.
He had bouts of ill health, including prostate cancer and a stroke, but bounced back. Then came Douglas’s diagnosis of Parkinsons Dementia two years ago.
“We knew something was not right. His hand was shaking a lot and we got it checked out,” Anne said. “The dementia came along later.”
Anne said the couple have good days and bad days. “I do need a little down time. He does follow me about, needing my attention, and there are times we need some space from each other.”
Anne talks with humour about Douglas waking early to make himself a coffee, sometimes followed by the crash of a dropped cup. Anne said: “I’m losing quite a bit of good china, but it’s only a cup or two so it doesn’t matter!”
Anne said she was grateful for the support of her children who are always keen to help care for their dad. A good recharge can be a round of golf.
At the retreats, carers will be advised on how to obtain 24/7 support from DSA’s staff and other community services, and, very importantly, how to care for their own well-being. Participants will also learn how to access and prepare for respite services, including Candlebark Overnight Respite Cottage.
The cottage, opened last year and the first of its kind in the region, is a home-away-from-home available for eligible people aged 65 years and over so their carers can take time out knowing their loved ones will get wonderful care.
Want to read more about the Staying at Home Program?