Your shed and dementia, a manual
On any day you will find in any of these numerous buildings around the world, amongst the dust and the noise, men gathering, working and talking in a place they call their own, a place that is more than four walls and a roof a place that has a heart of its own, a place they call the “Men’s Shed”.
Within the Shed many social barriers are removed. No matter what background a man comes from, what religion or race, what level of education or profession the common denominator is that they are all men in a male friendly environment in a place where they are all equal.
The Australian Men’s Shed Association is proud to support Alzheimer’s Australia in producing this manual. Men’s Sheds are welcoming places and many of the “shedders” wish to help fellow shedders, but sometimes don’t have all the tools they need to do so. This manual has the necessary tools to help shedders support and communicate with men with dementia and men who are carers.
It addresses the real issues associated with dementia “Shedders” need to know how to handle these issues in a sensitive and supportive way so the Shed can continue to have a positive influence.
Australian Men’s Shed Association
This Manual is a great addition to good dementia care for a most needy group - older men who are dealing with the dementia challenge.
One of the great problems of dementia is the social isolation it causes. Social inclusion and shared experiences with open and accepting colleagues and friends are essential to a happy life. More so if that life involves dementia. That is why this initiative involving Men’s Sheds and dementia is so welcome.
At Alzheimer’s Australia NSW we have become convinced about the efficacy of the Men’s Shed movement in providing beneficial opportunities for older men dealing with dementia. With one in ten Australians over 65 expected to be diagnosed with dementia, sheds will have to determine whether they are open and inclusive to men dealing with dementia or whether they effectively close their doors to those in need. I cannot imagine that the Men’s Shed movement will be anything other than open, compassionate, generous and accepting. They are justly seen as leaders in the growing push for dementia friendly communities.
This manual provides creative and easy to follow advice about how Men’s Sheds can be that open and welcoming support that so many men with dementia will need. I’m sure this manual will become a very valuable and effective resource in improving the options for men coping with the dementia challenge.
The Hon John Watkins
Chief Executive Officer,
Alzheimer’s Australia NSW
Introducing the manual
Being a part of a Men’s Shed provides opportunities to participate actively in the community with other men from diverse backgrounds. Being involved in a social way at a Men’s Shed has been shown to increase our quality of life.
Us blokes love to help out others – in fact we will help out others before we help ourselves. However, when we don’t know what to do or how to help, we often do nothing or withdraw because we “don’t want to do the wrong thing!” This only increases social isolation.
Until now there has been little specific information available to support men who are in the sheds who have dementia. Yet the shed is often one of the most important spaces available to men who have a diagnosis of dementia and for men who are carers.
This manual provides us as shedders with the tools to change this and shows how we can effectively work with, and help out, mates who are dealing with dementia in a way that is not patronising or demeaning – our pride is important to us! It provides practical ideas that are, in most cases, easily achievable and which can make a positive difference. This manual serves to improve our knowledge about dementia, help us learn how to provide assistance and to serve as a guide to look for additional information and support.
Our thanks go to a number of Men’s Sheds in NSW and Queensland who helped with the development of the manual and by providing valuable feedback on the information provided in order to make it more “Men’s Shed Friendly”.
The writers of the manual also recognise that often a shedder might be the person who is a carer for a loved one who has dementia – these blokes also need our quiet and caring support and understanding. The shed may be their only time out from caring for the whole week!
There is a tool for everyone here and the manual has been designed so that it can be read in sections or as a whole. Some of the tools on offer are:
- Tools for all shedders – a summary of what dementia is, how to recognise it and simple ways to support blokes with dementia which can make a big difference. There are also tips on communication and supporting carers.
- Tools for men who are interested in joining a shed and have been diagnosed with dementia
- Tools for keeping your brain healthy and active
- Tools for helping the shed leadership teams to make the best decisions for all concerned
- Tools that explain that dementia - like symptoms don’t always mean you have dementia and that seeking a doctor’s advice and a proper diagnosis might just provide a solution to what ails you.
I encourage you to make this manual available to all who attend the shed and perhaps have copies available to take home and absorb. Or you could print out the sections of interest separately. Enjoy the read!
Community Engagement Manager
Australian Men’s Shed Association