COVID-19 has brought added complexity to those looking after and living with dementia, as social isolation takes its toll.
With dementia action week coming up next week starting on Monday, September 21 the Lithgow Mercury spoke to dementia support worker Kas Hilton about the challenges Lithgow residents have faced.
"We have a high proportion of people aged over 65 who are in the dementia age bracket who are probably really feeling the social isolation with COVID-19," she said.
As a support worker for Jeff Thurlow, Ms Hilton said that to get his social interaction, they have been walking up and down Main Street.
"He is such an outgoing person, so we walk Main Street so he can stop and have a chat to people," she said.
According to Ms Hilton social isolation has had a huge impact on people.
"Jeff has been lucky that his partner has been working from home, and Sebastian's return to work will probably be quite challenging," she said.
"But they have a really good network of people so I elicit ideas from them and try my own hand at it."
Ms Hilton said that now restrictions have eased the Dementia Alliance Group has been able to recommence.
"It is a not for profit group and we just try and support those with and caring for someone living with dementia," she said.
The groups original meeting place was Lithgow Library but they have had to find a new place to meet up.
"Club Lithgow has allowed us to use their meeting room which has been fantastic," she said.
The group is adhering to the limit of 10 people per social gathering.
"Most people have been understanding that we are trying to keep the meetings just to those that are living with dementia and their carers,"
"Beforehand we would accept anyone who wanted to come, but now we have to make a limit."
Ms Hilton said she has been trying to keep in contact with some of the older members of the alliance, by making phone calls and writing letters.
"I ring and make sure they are okay, and let them know about the next gathering," she said.
"You really have to think of different strategies and communication channels because not everyone has a mobile or email."
As someone who is pro technology, Kas understands that it isn't like that for everyone.
"At one of our meetings I brought up Zoom but it isn't for everyone and I got an overwhelming no thank you, and that face to face is the way to go," she said.
Ms Hilton said she has been considering doing more regular meetings for people who can't make it or there isn't enough room for everybody.
"I have also been doing individual catch ups, which I quite like, because there is the personal approach," she said.
Ms Hilton said that it is fortunate that Lithgow has been a bit removed from the COVID-19 situation.
"I've seen it bring out the best in people, people checking in with their elderly neighbours in the street," she said.
Ms Hilton said that the loss of work due to COVID-19 can cause many personal struggles.
"It is the eroding away of independence, if someone with dementia can't drive and have no work, that is really their last bit of independence gone," she said.
"They really feel like they have no purpose."
But people need to remember to take time for the people who are also caring for those living with dementia.
"I have great respect for them, I was a carer to my Mum and while it was difficult, it isn't as difficult as those who care for someone with early onset dementia," she said.
"The amount of emotional trauma and potential life changes, if someone gets early onset dementia when they are 50, that is 20 to 30 years of caring for them."
Ms Hilton said while the group can't do anything for this years Dementia Week, they hope that everyone keeps checking up on those people who need it.
If you want to contact Kas Hilton, you can call her on 0428 610 959 or email firstname.lastname@example.org