Tackling dementia head on

This month, we put dementia in the spotlight, in an effort to reduce the stigma that surrounds this disease.

Two programs provided by the Uniting War Memorial Hospital (WMH) are addressing dementia in a unique and groundbreaking way.

A 9-week program called iREADi is designed for patients who’ve recently been diagnosed with early-stage mild dementia. Through interactive group sessions, patients and their families/carers receive rehabilitative strategies to pave what can be a daunting road ahead.

A new area of service provision in the dementia space, WMH is the only hospital in NSW offering a program like this.

iREADi aims to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of people living with early-stage mild dementia, providing the skills and confidence to help minimise the development of avoidable problems down the track.

“While there is no cure for dementia, these non-medicine based treatments are so important for people to realise that they can still live life,” said WMH Dementia Care Coordinator, Christine Sender-Ivanov.

Kerry Donohue, wife and carer of participant Ian, said that the program helped them realise that “people with dementia can continue to live productive, full and happy lives with their loved ones beside them.”

“The program has given us guidance and understanding on how to deal with day-to-day issues arising due to Ian’s memory loss,” said Kerry.

The WMH provides another unique service for people under the age of 65 with a diagnosis of Younger Onset Dementia (YOD), a less-known type of dementia.

The program facilitates social participation and independence through early intervention and community involvement, helping people to enjoy life, maintain routine and stay active.

“The focus of the program is not what dementia has taken away, but what life still has to offer,” said WMH YOD Program Coordinator, Siobhan Mackenzie.

iREADi participants with Coordinator Christine Sender-Ivanov