WITH Brain Awareness Week coinciding with Seniors Week, staff at Whiddon Laurieton took the opportunity to launch a campaign to raise awareness about the debilitating impact of cognitive decline, which many older Australians experience.
The goal of their ‘Sign My Name’ campaign is to get all Australians thinking about the mental wellbeing of our older generations during Brain Awareness Week and beyond.
The campaign encourages the public to write their name on a piece of paper using their non-dominant writing hand, before posting a photograph of the attempt on Facebook, along with the hashtag #Brain
Use of the non-dominant hand offers a glimpse into the trauma related to losing the ability to perform day-to-day tasks we often take for granted. The act of signing your name is an automatic task most people perform without a second thought.
“Imagine losing this ability and the huge implications that would have,” said Whiddon spokesperson, Karn Nelson.
Residents and staff at Whiddon’s Laurieton aged care home tried their hand at the handwriting challenge on Thursday.
Understandably, many found the task quite difficult.
Those to proudly display their efforts included Bethany Greig, June Stephens, Marinus Bersuo, Betty and Victor Fifield and Beryl and Osie Wykes.
“My right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing, although that’s not unusual,” quipped one cheeky resident.
Beryl Wykes agreed it was an interesting exercise, although she described her effort as “a little shaky”.
“Some of the regular games we play use the left hand too,” Beryl added.
Staff also struggled with the challenge, with Dr Craig Barry referring to the age-old joke about physicians and their sloppy handwriting to explain his fairly illegible effort.
The statistics associated with cognitive decline are surprising. More than 342,000 Australians are currently living with dementia, including almost a third of those aged over 85.
In addition, over 700,000 Australians are currently living with an acquired brain injury.
According to Whiddon staff, the organisation employs a range of creative ageing and other non-medication based techniques to manage and slow the pace of cognitive decline, and improve quality of life.
“We offer broad creative ageing approaches such as storytelling, arts and crafts, painting, choirs, music and intergenerational programs to help our clients find alternative ways to engage, express themselves and exercise their brains,” Karn Nelson explained.
Whiddon Laurieton’s Acting Director Care Services, Dale Feeney, has invited the wider Laurieton community to participate in the social media campaign and join the organisation in raising awareness.
Further details are available on Whiddon’s Facebook page and at whiddon.com.au.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.