An interview with Danijela Hlis was published in the April issue of the Australian Journal of Dementia Care.
Danijela is of Slovenian nationality, but is living and working in Australia for almost 40 years. She is a vocal advocate of persons with dementia. She gathered her experiences with dementia in a book of poems and stories Forget-Me-Nots=Spominčice, written in English and Slovenian language. With this book, Danijela wanted to present to the readers the world of persons with dementia from different language and cultural environments. In the book, she also included a story of Tomaž Gržinič, member of Spominčica – Alzheimer Slovenia, president of the Slovenian group of persons with dementia and a member of EWGPWD. Tomaž was also present at the 9th International Conference on Dementia ASK 2017, organized by Spominčica. The conference was held in Čatež SPA, from 21st to 22nd October 2017.
In her interview, Danijela describes an experience of becoming her mother’s caregiver, who was diagnosed with dementia when she was 70 years old. She describes their relationship and living together, which was sometimes hard and challenging, but always loving and exciting. She compares a positive experience of her mother living with dementia in Australia to her aunts’ experience, who spent her last days alone and abandoned in a care home in France.
Danijela speaks of her active inclusion in several research projects, cooperation with Alzheimer societies, her volunteering and advocacy of persons with dementia and their caregivers. She ends the interview with an observation on how love, respect and inclusion represent the key factors in maintaining the quality of life of persons with dementia. She also states that many opportunities for improvement still remain, such as staff training, knowledge transference and language and culture appropriate respite and end-of-life care.