ABC CHAIRMAN and high-profile businesswoman Ita Buttrose will walk side-by-side with Ballarat's leading dementia champions and those affected by the disease early next month.
Ms Buttrose, a long-time Dementia Australia ambassador, will help to lead the city's first Memory Walk and Jog created by the national support charity.
This builds on the momentum of Ballarat's Brittany Rose, who organised a do-it-yourself event in tribute to her grandfather last year.
Ms Buttrose told The Courier the work of Ballarat's dementia champions has been important to Dementia Australia for raising awareness in this community and nationwide.
This includes Ms Rose, who now partners with fellow young advocates Nick Locandro and Meg Curnow, in founding This Is Dementia as a grassroots network.
Ballarat can also boast leading dementia expert, geriatrician Mark Yates, and Anne Tudor and Edie Mayhew who, with dementia assistance dog Melvin, speak nationally about their experience with the disease. Progress is underway to create the state's first sensory trail in Woowookarung Regional Park.
Ms Buttrose's father was diagnosed with vascular dementia in his 80. She said there was a lot of shock and frustration that followed. She felt key awareness messages of showing greater patience and kindness were vital for communities, for example, if you see someone a little confused.
"Ask yourself could it be dementia. Offer a helping hand and say, 'could I help you?'," Ms Buttrose said. "...Loss of memory can be can be very haphazard, especially in the early stages."
Ms Buttrose said it was important to keep laughing with a loved one who has dementia. These often became moments you could cherish.
"(Diagnosis) is a shock for the person and a shock for the people whose loved one it is but you can live a very good life, even if you have dementia," Ms Buttrose said.
While Ms Buttrose supported all Memory Walk and Jog fundraisers for Dementia Australia, she looked forward to a trip to Ballarat.
This is the city in which Ms Buttrose was baptised at St Patrick's Cathedral. Her grandparents lived in Ballarat and this was where her mother stayed while her father was away in the war.
Ballarat Memory Walk and Jog is about Lake Wendouree on March 15. The event will feature a lap of the lake or a two-kilometre walk.
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