"We don't have problems, we're men, we hold them in."
Lavington's John Elias and the four other males at the table all note the irony as they finish a series of Wodonga workshops that has helped them talk more about a significant issue in their lives.
Mr Elias, Allan Hoffmann, of Albury, Wodonga's Voja Mitic and Fernand Sajovic and Myrtleford's Brian Souter took part in Blokes in a Caring Role, a program aimed at men who care for a loved one with dementia.
Organised by Upper Murray Family Care's Support Options and Dementia Australia, the Wodonga course is one of about 15 that have been held around Victoria since 2016.
A future Albury program is also planned.
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Dementia Australia manager of client services Vincent Poisson, the Wodonga facilitator, said the program arose out of feedback that indicated men weren't attending mixed groups.
"We might run a session with 15 participants and only one man out of the whole group would come," he said.
Blokes in a Caring Role takes a different approach, recognising men often were reticent to sit around and just discuss their emotions.
"I found that by helping men to talk about the practical day-to-day problems, this then allowed them to start to talk more about their feelings, so I had to sort of go about it the other way around," Mr Poisson said. "I guess it's less intrusive in a way and less confronting for them."
The men's wives have been living with dementia for only weeks in some cases, several years in others, both at home and in care.
Mr Elias said the sessions allowed them to meet other people experiencing the same problems, which could be hard to raise otherwise.
"With fellas, we're isolationists - oh, we are," he said.
"That's an Alzheimer's thing, people don't want to know about it, so you get isolated. But here we can talk about what's going on, how they're acting, how they're reacting, possibly what to expect."
"The benefit that many of us get from this sort of thing is learning about what's likely to happen in the future," Mr Souter added.
With the original course finished, the five men intend to continue meeting monthly to share thoughts and developments.
"It's a way of feeling support," Mr Souter said.
Mr Poisson said the Wodonga group had proven more willing to tell their stories than participants in previous programs, possibly indicating a lack of support services in regional centres.
"We are always keen to go around the different regions of Victoria," he said.
Anyone seeking information about Blokes in a Caring Role can contact the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500.
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