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Family members who care for people with Alzheimer's in their own homes would benefit from greater support.

Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder that progressively erodes memory and thinking skills, eventually resulting in people unable to care for themselves. But many older people with Alzheimer's in Dunedin live in their own homes with family support. Māori are more likely to present for memory assessment, and do so at a younger age than the general population, so culturally appropriate services are needed. 

Nursing students Nicole Aitchison, Olivia Austen, Annalise Bathgate, Chris Boomer, Jade Butson, Chloe Connor, Alexandra Daykin, Bethany Duxbury, Rachael Lecky and Carole Smith talked to service providers and identified that greater support for carers was needed. Caring for people with Alzheimer's living in their own home is a physical and psychological burden. To encourage these carers the students produced a sticker and fridge magnet with the message "The heart remembers what the mind forgets" in English and Māori. They also designed a cloth tote bag with the same message on one side and on the other some practical advice: 

  • Be Patient
  • Always Reassure
  • Reminisce Together
  • Stay Calm and Repeat Yourself

The students also realised that there was no specialised respite care for people with Alzheimer's, which makes it more difficult for their carers to get a break. They presented an oral submission on this issue to a meeting of the network of service providers facilitated by the Dunedin City Council.

December 2021

Image credit: John Munt, Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial licence CC BY-NC 2.0