David, 86, was an artist. He was born in England, trained in Johannesburg and travelled the world, hand-painting signs for shopfronts long before the days of computers and digital printers.
But after an 11-hour triple bypass operation at the age of 69, David was left cognitively impaired. He gave up work and seemed to lose all interest in life.
While David’s Danish-born wife Ulla, 81, has watched his dementia progress to the point that he now needs constant care, she says a fresh opportunity for David to work with his hands again has given him a new lease on life.
The radio is playing the classics and you can smell the barbeque lunch cooking when we visit the shed at Centacare’s Enoggera Social and Community Hub on a Friday afternoon.
David is working alongside his support worker Tony to convert an old Singer sewing machine table into a hall stand. He has pulled the stand apart himself and his inner artist now takes the lead – sanding back the timber top with care and precision to give it the best finish he can.
“All sanding jobs are different,” said David. “You use a different technique depending on the timber you’re working with.”
Dementia impacts close to half a million Australians and almost 1.6 million Australians are involved in their care. This Dementia Action Week (19-25 September) Centacare is joining Dementia Australia to show that, for people living with dementia, ‘a little support makes a big difference’.
Centacare provides a range of services for people living with dementia as well as their families and carers. Service Delivery Manager Sandra Jaynes said her team felt privileged to walk alongside people like David and Ulla.
David visits the Enoggera hub every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The Centacare bus picks him up from his home and drops him back in the afternoon. When he’s not working in the shed he enjoys having a laugh and a chat with John, his good friend from the Hub.
“The support workers at the Hub are terrific,” said Ulla. David feels safe and comfortable and I love that he’s given opportunities to use his hands to create beautiful pieces. That’s exactly what he’s been doing his whole life.”
If you care for someone with dementia, Centacare offers a range of flexible, help to care options including support at home, out in the community, at one of our social and community hubs or overnight stays at our respite cottages.