August 8, 2018 | Australia, Dementia coaching program offers chance to live well
Support available for Sydney residents diagnosed with dementia
A new University of Sydney trial offers coaching and peer support to help people newly diagnosed with dementia cope with their prognosis and stay active and involved in their lives and community.
“I want to try and help people see they can fight back…you can’t just give into it.”
Bobby Redman, Peer supporter living with dementia
Lead researcher Associate Professor Lee-Fay Low said the pilot study has the potential to fill a vital service gap with the latest research suggesting keeping the mind and body active could slow the progression of dementia.
“Following a dementia diagnosis many people withdraw from their friends and family for fear they will deteriorate quickly and can suffer immense grief or depression,” said Low, Associate Professor in Ageing and Health at the University of Sydney.
“There are over 400 000 Australians currently living with dementia and with a cure still some way off it’s essential that we help people with early dementia to live well.
“We hope that giving people the right support, tools and strategies from the onset could help achieve this.”
The Dementia Lifestyle Coach pilot study is a collaboration between the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Brain and Mind Centre.
Participants will receive 14 counselling and coaching sessions from a registered psychologist over a six-month period and will also have a regular phone or skype catch ups with a peer supporter who lives with dementia.
Retired psychologist Bobby Redman is one of the peer supporters involved in the study.
Bobby was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia two and half years ago at age 66 after she noticed problems remembering the names of close friends and an inability to find the right words to express herself.
“My story is a bit different because with my psychology background I knew something was definitely wrong – but a dementia diagnosis is still a shock for anyone,” said Bobby.
“And what’s probably hardest is that, like in my experience, many people with early dementia are just told to come back when things get worse or to get their things in order.
“But I’ve learnt that there are tools and strategies you can put in place to help manage the impact of dementia. Even simple things like using my phone to set daily reminders to drink water and stay hydrated.
“What I’d like to see is more clinicians trained to provide these strategies to people to help them overcome simple issues.
“I want to try and help people see they can fight back. I think that’s the key….you can’t just give into it.”
The pilot study will run over a 12-month period, with researchers aiming to assess the impact the coaching program has on participants’ mood, independence, activity levels and quality of life.
The University of Sydney is trialling a counselling and coaching program for people living at home recently diagnosed with early dementia. To be eligible you must have received a diagnosis of early dementia within the past 6 months. Read more information about the Dementia lifestyle coaching study or contact Dr Annica Barcenilla on +61 2 9351 9837 or firstname.lastname@example.org
One of my fondest memories working in aged care in Australia was the talking about Christmas recipes with all the residents during this holiday season. For many of us who have slaved over the stovetop during the festive seasons, you know what I am talking about. To get that perfect Christmas fruitcake was a project months in the making. I usually worked the Christmas shifts and we would always get together and you could see all the ladies eyes lit up like the fairy lights on the Christmas tree as we chatted away about our favourite Christmas dishes, the delectable treats and without a doubt, everyone, literally all the ladies had some cooking tips and advice to share. Sometimes, even their families would join in the conversation and I had to pry myself out of the room haha. From Pavlovas, Dundee cakes, Christmas cakes, brandy butter to Medisterkaker. Everyone had something lovely to share. You can tell I love the Christmas season.
Anyway I found out that in the UK, Magna Vitae is working on a new health initiative to support people with dementia and their caregivers. Guess what? It’s all about food! In January 2016, they will be running a string of dementia friendly workshops known as ‘Feeding Memories’ for people with dementia and their caregivers in the UK.
This workshop certainly breathes innovation, food is such an important component in our daily lives. The workshop is a food reminiscence therapy programme, helping to ‘revive the senses’ through utilising food packaging from the past and it seems like there might be some cooking involved as well. It doesn’t stop there, the workshop has an inclusive and community aspect, sharing the importance of nutrition, diet and getting people socially engaged in their common love for food.
I’m really excited about the workshop and I hope that there will be more of these workshops to go around, especially in the Memory Cafes.
Read an awesome ad inspiring news piece about Lingo Flamingo, a social enterprise in Glasgow that provides individualised lessons and workshops that aid cognitive function with the aim of tackling dementia. The founder Robbie Norval founded Lingo Flamingo to help his grandmother who was living with dementia.
There’s been a sea of research recently reminding us that being bilingual or multilingual has it’s benefits, everyone from the Singapore Management University, Georgetown University Medical Centre, Northwestern University, the University of Houston and even the American Heart Association.
The research states that being bilingual or multilingual can
improve our ability to process information
gain more grey matter than monolinguals
better cognitive functions post-stroke than monolinguals
be a constant challenge to the brain
A dementia language project such as Lingo Flamingo is an inspiration. It not only aid cognitive function, it helps to support engagement and movement, it gets people into the community and builds an inclusive environment. Most of it, it’s people coming together to learn and to have fun learning.
Hopefully, more of these initiatives will be set up globally, certainly would love to see a programme such as this in Asia as well. Though a large number of Asian are bilingual, it’s always not a bad thing for your brain health to pick up another language.