Staying on course
By EMMA CORNFORD
IN July, Joy Smith's husband Allen had a stroke which left him with vascular dementia.
As his full-time carer, Joy felt like she was totally alone in her position.
But then she and Allen began attending a memory loss course each week in Grafton ? and have never looked back.
"Everyone who cares for someone with dementia should do this course," she said.
"I was totally bewildered how to care for Allen at first. It was like the doctor just said 'well, he's had a stroke' and that was it. I really thought I was on my own until we started this course."
The course, run by Community Health, lasts for seven weeks and is in its fourth week at the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club.
There are people and their carers at the course, and each week the group builds on what it has learnt ? a tool Joy said was invaluable.
"It's an absolutely wonderful course. You learn how to cope with things like personality changes, mood swings. And they teach you to take time off for yourself, which is really important," she said.
"Care is an ongoing thing. It's not like breaking your leg, where it's healed in six weeks. But the thing is not to treat them differently. They may have changed a bit and it might take them a bit longer to do some things, but really they're the same person."
Memory Expos will soon be running in the Clarence Valley to promote looking after your health and provide information to those caring for people with memory loss.
Guest speakers, demonstrations of Tai Chi and line dancing and short talks by local organisations on diet, nutrition and chair exercises will allow people to find out what services are available within the Clarence Valley to assist with a healthy lifestyle.
Information on services, such as the memory loss course Joy and Allen attend, will also be available. The expo will run in Grafton on Wednesday, March 22 from 10am-3pm at the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club, and in Yamba on Thursday, April 6 from 10am-3pm at the Yamba Bowling Club. Free transport is available, but bookings must be made by phoning 6643 4924.