Dealing with dementia

A dementia advocacy service says increasing referrals to its day programme are pushing demand at the centre.

Alzheimer's Marlborough receives around seven referrals a month to its Blenheim base. To keep up with demand, the centre has increased its day programme from three to five days a week.

Each day, 15 patients access the programme's Forget Me Not Club and a small number of people on a month-long waiting list access day activities.

Social worker Anthea Macdonald said there was anecdotal evidence more people in Marlborough were living with dementia.

"We have an ageing population, we have more late baby boomers, more people are living longer and people are being diagnosed earlier," Macdonald said.

There are more than 100 forms of dementia, characterised by memory loss, problem-solving issues, difficulty with orientation and feeling socially withdrawn and isolated. But Alzheimer's Marlborough's mantra is, people can live well with dementia.

"There is no cure but there is medication that can keep someone on a plateau," she said. "We focus on what they can do rather than what they can't. People with dementia can still lead a full and healthy life. It is really important that they socialise, eat healthily and exercise to keep their brain ticking over."

Its day programme has become a vital lifeline for people with dementia and offers much-needed respite to carers working 24/7.

Clients are bused to the Wither Rd base, where they can socialise, enjoy a hot lunch, go on outings, or do craft activities. A hairdresser, podiatrist and music therapist offer their services to clients. Tuesdays are women's days, and Thursdays are for men.

The team of 60 volunteers also runs a carers group and younger onset dementia carers group. This month its early memory loss group will begin.

Memory Cafes are being introduced at Clubs of Marlborough in Blenheim and Wave Cafe and Courtyard in Picton so people with dementia and their families can socialise.

For more information on Alzheimer's Marlborough, phone 03 577 6172.

The Marlborough Express