Success due to volunteers

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 10:40 26/02/2013
Alzheimers Marlborough

Celebrating 25 years: Volunteers, including from left, Alzheimers Marlborough’s first paid day care co-ordinator Kaye Clarke, a field worker, left, president Diane Johnson, former president Helen Knapp and the first national co-ordinator for Alzheimers New Zealand, Jan Harrison, are the driving force behind Alzheimers

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The volunteers behind setting up Alzheimers Marlborough were pioneers, says the first national co-ordinator for Alzheimers New Zealand, Jan Harrison.

Mrs Harrison, of Christchurch, was among 60 people who attended the 25th anniversary of Alzheimers Marlborough at the Day Centre in Blenheim on Sunday night.

When the group of Marlborough nurses and social workers got together to form the organisation in 1987, very little was known about Alzheimer's disease, she said.

"It was an incredibly brave move; they were pioneers really.

"In 1988 there were no funding contracts from the district health boards and there was very little known or understood about Alzheimers."

Alzheimers Marlborough president Diane Johnson said countless cake stalls and raffles had been held over the years to help fund the organisation, which provided information and support for Alzheimers patients and their carers.

Alzheimer's disease was the most common form of dementia, and numbers were increasing with the ageing baby-boomers, and because the signs were being recognised earlier, she said.

"Until 25 years ago, not much was known about Alzheimers. It was just passed off as people getting older.

"But these days it is being diagnosed earlier, which is great because there is medication available in the early stages which helps improve quality of life."

Everyone praised the army of volunteers behind Alzheimers Marlborough.

Mrs Harrison said without volunteers there would be no support for Alzheimer patients and their carers.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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