Support available for people with dementia
When you or someone you care about is diagnosed with dementia, it can be daunting and will raise many questions and concerns. Luckily, there is help available! There is support available for all those affected by dementia in New Zealand – here are just a few of the services on offer:
Local dementia organisations, such as Alzheimers Auckland, run a range of weekly socialisation activities within their region. These activities provide an opportunity for people with dementia to engage with understanding people from their local community through enjoyable and meaningful experiences. They can help alleviate distress and may even slow the progression of dementia. Carers can also benefit, by either attending to connect with others in a similar situation, or taking some well-deserved time off.
With walking groups, choirs, cooking classes, art engagement groups, and many more options, there are activities to appeal to all interests. You can even take part in exercise groups involving specially designed programmes that help participants maintain mobility, decrease their risk of falls, improve vitality, and maintain functional independence. Even if you aren’t sure if an activity is for you, it is worth giving one or two a go. These groups receive amazing feedback and almost all participants say they would never miss what has become a regular catch up with good friends.
Knowing what a tough job carers can have, many of the services provided across the country are specifically aimed at supporting carers to better look after their person with dementia – and themselves! Local dementia organisations run professionally facilitated support groups for carers, which provide an opportunity to meet and have safe, open discussions with other carers. These show carers that they are not alone and validate their role (a hugely important one!)
Education programmes are also available for carers. These give carers a better understanding of dementia, practical communication strategies, tools for problem solving and managing stress, and information on the help and support services available to them.
Highly trained telephone support workers are available from a range of organisations to support both people with dementia and their carers. These workers can offer consultation, guidance, information, and advice. It can be helpful and therapeutic to talk about the pressures of living with dementia with someone who understands.
How to get support
Needs Assessment Service Coordination agencies (NASCs) are organisations that work alongside people in the community who require assistance to either remain living in the community or transition into residential care. Once assessed by a case manager, people with dementia may become eligible to receive funding for a range of support services. These include home help, assistance with personal care needs, day programmes, carer relief, respite services, residential care, support with ready-made meals, and subsidised transport costs. For more information, talk to your GP or find your local NASC agency.
Alzheimers Auckland is one of the local organisations that has plenty of free and helpful services available for carers and people with dementia. These include activity groups which aim to empower people with dementia to live well. Walking groups, coffee meet-ups, art-making, Zumba and men’s fitness groups all encourage people to create new connections and try new things, and give the carer a chance to have a break too.
Visit www.alzheimers.org.nz to find your local organisation or discover more information about how to help people with dementia live well.