How Aussies are pushing back against dementia
Jody Chaplan says dementia has turned her world upside down.
At the age of 51, Jody was running her own IT business and leading a busy life with husband Leigh.
But two years ago, as she told A Current Affair, she was diagnosed with young onset dementia.
"You're lost, you're lost within yourself, not knowing - is it going to change?" she said.
"Are things going to change? Is there going to be a life?"
Prior to the diagnosis, Leigh said, they had noticed Jody struggling with reading and writing, but they did not know why.
Then one day, Jody was walking her dog around the neighbourhood, when she became disorientated.
"We were lucky there was another gentleman there who actually helped and directed Jody to where she was going," Leigh said.
Every three seconds, someone in the world develops dementia, and it currently affects half a million Australians.
But a new study released today found that many people still don't really understand the condition.
Two-thirds of people surveyed wrongly thought dementia was caused by normal ageing, when in fact it is a neurodegenerative condition.
And one in four people think nothing can done to prevent it - but evidence shows not smoking, treating high blood pressure, managing diabetes and increasing exercise can help.
Jody now takes to the running track three times a week with the help of a trainer, and she said it had given her a new outlook on life.
"I have to run because it keeps you healthy and it keeps you alive, and if you've got this disease, it's the best thing you can do for yourself," she said.
"It changes my day, it lifts me up."
Alzheimer's Australia CEO Maree McCabe said people with dementia could continue for "quite a period of time" participating in work, social life and activities.
For those living away from Australia's major cities it can be even harder - but new technology is helping to bridge the gap.
Kerin Glennen, who lives with his wife Karen in Colac, three hours away from Melbourne, uses the Telehealth service from Royal Melbourne Hospital to connect with his specialist online.
As well as saving time and money, Karen said, it was better for Kerin.
"It's less stressful, he can sit here at home on the couch, have his hour's appointment, and then have a cup of tea or go to bed," she said.
Royal Melbourne Hospital director of neuropsychiatry Professor Dennis Velakoulis said people didn't need any special equipment to use the service.
"It can be done from any computer, a browser, an iPad, even a mobile phone," he said.
As for Jody, she's dedicating her life to being a voice for those living with dementia.
"I had a job and it was great, and beautiful clothes which I love, but you know what, it didn't really mean anything for me anymore," she said.
"I probably have got a better life now than I ever had before because I'm doing a lot of work with people who have got dementia."
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