KI filmmaker Isaac Doman features Jen Stevens in Focus on Ability film contest

STILL LAUGHING: Jennifer Shakin' Stevens of Kangaroo Island is interviewed by Isaac Doman in the Penneshaw Town Hall for
STILL LAUGHING: Jennifer Shakin' Stevens of Kangaroo Island is interviewed by Isaac Doman in the Penneshaw Town Hall for "It's Still Me.." about Parkinson's and dementia.

Young and aspiring Kangaroo Island filmmaker Isaac Doman has made a touching yet hilarious documentary on the subject of Parkinson's and dementia for this year's Focus on Ability film festival.

The star of "I'm Still Me" is one of Kangaroo Island's best line dancers, Jennifer Shakin' Stevens of Kingscote, who not only lives cheerfully with Parkinson's disease but also dementia.

The 5-minute documentary takes the form of an interview with Jen explaining her life with the afflictions to Isaac. There's even a reference to Donald Trump's toilet paper incident.

Watch "I'm Still Me..."

She calls Parkinson's "Captain Horrible" and with her dementia, sometimes she is not sure "which way is up".

"I laugh about it, I make jokes of it, there's nothing I can change, I can't go back, I haven't done anything to deserve it, but I've got it, so it's there, so laugh along with it," Jen says to Isaac.

It was shot at the Penneshaw Town Hall thanks to the Kangaroo Island Council with Dan Clarke from Ninti Media assisting.

Unfortunately the voting period has closed for Isaac and Jen's film but we wish them the best of luck in the judging and fingers crossed for the early November awards announcements.

Isaac has also been busy lately working on the new and much anticipated production of "Fighting to Farm" by Ninti Media and Ad Hoc Docs, set to premiere at Parndana next month.

This is not KI's first appearance in the Focus on Ability shory film festival, as Kangaroo Island Community Education submitted entries in 2018 and 2019.

It has also happens to be Dementia Action Week from September 21-17.

With Australia's ageing population, and the average age of rural Australians the highest, dementia is likely to touch everyone's lives in some way in the coming years.

Dr John Hall, President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) said that a greater understanding of the disease will mean that more rural Australians can spend longer at home, and less time in care.

"Living with dementia can be a terribly isolating experience for the patient, and traumatic for the family," Dr Hall said.

"It is encouraging for everyone to know that with a combination of understanding and assistance many people can continue to live quality lives within their communities and own home for years after their diagnosis.

"Dementia is a progressive disease which causes a decline in a person's ability to function.

"There are many kinds, Alzheimer's being the most well-known, but dementia may cause not only a loss of memory, but also intellect, rationality, social skills and physical functioning.

"It can occur at any age, but is most common after the age of 65," Dr Hall said.

A person with dementia still experiences all the usual adult emotions, even though their ability to express them may be affected. Support by friends and family can really make a difference to their quality of life.

"Rural communities are sometimes the best place for a person suffering from dementia to maintain their independence," Dr Hall said.

"Smaller towns where they are known and understood can keep people in their own homes, with the aid of family and friends, for quite a long time.

"We know that dementia patients often deteriorate rapidly once they leave their familiar environment so this is hugely important for them, and in for many rural patients they may have to leave their local area entirely to move into a care facility.

"Even though their function is deteriorating, people retain their feelings and emotions even though they may not understand what is being said.

"It's important to maintain their dignity and self esteem, so be flexible and allow plenty of time for a response. Where appropriate, use touch to keep the person's attention and to communicate feelings of warmth and affection," Dr Hall said.

"There are some really helpful advice sheets available at dementia.org.au, or visit your local rural GP for further advice, information and support."

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