Hartley's Jeff Thurlow is among people living with dementia from around the country who are part of a new advertising campaign aimed at preventing discrimination.
The Dementia Australia campaign was launched on Monday to coincide with the start of Dementia Action Week 2019.
Its theme is 'Dementia doesn't discriminate. Do you?'
Loneliness is a major problem for people suffering from dementia, Mr Thurlow said.
Friends and family can fade away from your life, while others feel awkward because they don't know what to say.
"I know they don't hate me, they just don't know what to say and do," Mr Thurlow said.
"I'm still Jeff, I still have all the same passions I had before."
Mr Thurlow said he agreed to participate in the advertising campaign to encourage other people living with dementia to come out with their own voice.
"So often, people with the best intentions speak for you, and your voice is lost," he said.
"This is about letting us have our voice. We still have many things to contribute to our society."
You can watch the full video here.
Of course, Mr Thurlow insists he was not the real star of the show. That was his miniature poodle, Coco.
With more and more nursing home and retirement villages being built within the Lithgow region, it was in the best interest of the community to become aware of the challenges faced by people with dementia.
In its Community Strategic Plan 2025 the average age of Lithgow's population was projected to rise to 51 years by 2036.
"Most people never envision being on this journey, but there is help out there," Mr Thurlow said.
"The problem is that some people are ashamed."
Service provision remains an issue and, the further west of the city you travel, the harder it becomes. Lithgow is better positioned that some other regional centres with its easy access to the Blue Mountains train line.
Mr Thurlow has connected with other men who, like him, were diagnosed with early onset dementia. He calls them "his tribe".
"It's a group of guys all in the same position as me," he said.
"We're on the same journey, so there is no pretense. We can be honest with each other and we've formed good friendships."
Mr Thurlow and his support worker Kas Hilton both praised the Lithgow Uniting Church's Beehive group for the activities it provides for everyone to join in.
"I always feel very supported there," he said.
In the Federal electorates of Calare and Macquarie there are an estimated 6278 people living with dementia this year, which is expected to increase to 13,011 by 2058.
As part of the annual awareness campaign, Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe is asking Australians to complete a short survey at dementia.org.au/survey to give us a national, informed picture of what discrimination looks like now and what it would take to shift that discrimination.
Figures show that without a medical breakthrough, the number of Australians living with dementia is projected to increase to almost 1.1 million by 2058.
The increasing prevalence means there will not be anyone not impacted by dementia in some way.
"We know, because people living with dementia tell us, that discrimination exists and that it impacts on their everyday life," Ms McCabe said.
"That's why we want to tackle this head-on and we are calling on all Australians to contribute their views."
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