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21st November 2022 Dementia

Giving hope in the face of a dementia diagnosis

Kate Laver web

A new program which aims to address the often negative and fearful experience that accompanies a dementia diagnosis is being trialled through Flinders Medical Centre – to promising early results!

Known as ‘Take Charge’ and modelled on positive trials overseas, the program helps people who are newly diagnosed with dementia focus on the things they can do rather than what they can’t.

Led by Associate Professor Kate Laver from Flinders University, the program involves two consultations with a health professional which helps people to think about the bigger picture – who they are, what they value and what they want to achieve in the coming months.

“People with dementia often live for more than five years after their diagnosis, however they have told us that the diagnosis is a very negative experience which involves advice to get one’s affairs in order and arrange aged care supports,” A/Prof Laver said.

“They want hope to achieve a good quality of life in the coming years and want programs that focus on what they can do rather than what they can’t.

“Through ‘Take Charge’, they meet with a health professional about their hopes, fears and aspirations. They are then asked to think about what their ideal day might look like and whether they have any areas they’d like to improve, such as their physical ability or emotional issues.”

120 participants with mild dementia have been enrolled so far, to great feedback.

“For example, one participant had been finding his social cards evenings more difficult due to his symptoms of dementia and had been thinking about withdrawing. Withdrawal from social circles and leisure activities is a huge problem amongst people with dementia,” A/Prof Laver said.

“He spoke with the health professional about the benefits of playing cards (cognitively and socially) and decided his goal was to keep playing cards with friends.

“Some of the strategies to achieve this included telling his friends that he’s having some memory issues and suggesting some simpler games which could be played in teams. These strategies enabled him to maintain this activity which was so important for his quality of life.”

At three and six month intervals, the participants are measured on their health-related quality of life, level of independence in daily activities, and hope – compared to a control group.

The Hospital Research Foundation Group is proud to be funding the trial to improve care for people living with dementia.

We look forward to keeping you updated on this important project.