Two in three New Zealanders are affected by dementia and that number is growing.
This September is World Alzheimer’s Month, so we asked Dementia Auckland to share with us some of the ways in which people living with dementia, their carers, their families, and their friends can get support.
Anyone who has been touched by dementia in some way will know that it is a challenge that requires as much support and love as possible. But for many individuals and families facing up to a dementia diagnosis, it’s hard to know where to begin to get that support – or to really understand both what support is out there and what support they may find they need as time goes by and symptoms worsen.
The support that is out there serves two main groups of people affected by dementia – those living with dementia, and those caring for a person with dementia. Both require different kinds of support to ensure the best outcomes for all involved.
A core part of community-focused dementia support is socialisation – and organisations like Dementia Auckland provide a range of different activities each week. These activities are designed to allow people with dementia and their families and carers to meet others who are in similar circumstances, and have a stimulating experience at the same time. Different programmes include walking groups, gym groups, dance classes and Cognitive Stimulation Therapy sessions.
They are designed to be fun and accessible, with people with dementia getting the chance to keep their social skills up and keep their brains active, and carers having the opportunity to get support from each other or just get a little time to themselves.
Dementia key workers provide support at the coal face. They provide free services for those affected by dementia in their communities – whether that’s home visits, telephone consultations or family consultations.
They are experts in the journey that those with dementia and their families go on, and can provide both peace of mind and useful information. Some areas may have more available key workers than others – but most regions will have a phone line that you can call with queries and concerns even if you don’t have an immediate appointment or catch-up scheduled.
Medical professionals also play an important role in dealing with dementia, especially in the early diagnosis stages. Dementia Auckland and other members of Dementia New Zealand are committed to upskilling health professionals in dementia care and support to ensure that current best practice is observed across the board.
Caring for carers
Dementia-focused organisations understand deeply that caring for someone with dementia can be a lonely and isolating experience – so support for carers is a vital part of what is offered. Support groups for carers exist in many areas, where carers can feel validated in their roles and able to discuss their challenges and successes in a safe and understanding environment. A great deal of education can come from those shared experiences, and the groups also provide a platform for other learning opportunities.
More formalised education programmes are available too – from general understanding of what dementia is and what a diagnosis means, through to all kinds of practical advice and strategy development. This ensures carers are equipped with the best possible tool kit to handle their role on a day-to-day basis.
All of these aspects of support are provided by Dementia Auckland, with activity groups and key workers found all across the city. If you’re located outside of Auckland, however, there are many similar offerings with other regional organisations. Visit www.dementia.nz to find an organisation near you and learn about what they bring to your local community.