Com­mu­ni­ca­tion sur­vey to tackle de­men­tia is­sues

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - RICHARD MAYS

Those af­fected by a fam­ily mem­ber’s Alzheimer’s or de­men­tia are in­vited to take part in a Massey Univer­sity sur­vey dur­ing Septem­ber.

Septem­ber is World Alzheimer’s Month and Donna Hed­ley of Alzheimer’s Manawatu¯ said the sur­vey wanted to col­lect in­for­ma­tion about the ways com­mu­ni­ca­tion changes as de­men­tia or Alzheimer’s takes hold.

While de­men­tia and Alzheimer’s are of­ten used in­ter­change­ably, de­men­tia is an um­brella term to de­scribe symp­toms that change and dam­age the brain, with Alzheimer’s be­ing a spe­cific form of de­men­tia.

‘‘The idea is to to de­velop com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gies to sup­port con­ver­sa­tions be­tween those who have de­men­tia and their com­mu­ni­ca­tion part­ners.’’

Hed­ley said the sur­vey was to as­sist in un­der­stand­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion ex­pe­ri­ences as those with de­men­tia lose their words.

‘‘We also hope to gain an aware­ness of any com­mu­ni­ca­tion sup­ports that are avail­able and their use­ful­ness.’’

‘‘It's about try­ing to keep those con­ver­sa­tions go­ing, even as lan­guage de­te­ri­o­rates.’’ Annabel Grant, Massey Univer­sity

Hus­bands, wives, chil­dren, car­ers, and friends in reg­u­lar con­tact with pa­tients were wanted to take part in the 10-minute sur­vey.

Annabel Grant, a clin­i­cal speech lan­guage ther­apy ed­u­ca­tor at Massey’s Institute of Ed­u­ca­tion in Al­bany who is be­hind the sur­vey, said main­tain­ing con­ver­sa­tion skills could im­prove pa­tients’ over­all qual­ity of life and help them re­tain their sense of self.

‘‘It’s about try­ing to keep those con­ver­sa­tions go­ing, even as lan­guage de­te­ri­o­rates.’’

The re­search would be used to raise aware­ness of the need for a more de­men­tia-friendly so­ci­ety and help re­duce the as­so­ci­ated stigma, Grant said. The sur­vey link is sur­veymon­key.com/r/9LHK8T7

Ac­cord­ing to Alzheimer’s New Zealand, there will be an es­ti­mated 170,000 New Zealan­ders with de­men­tia by 2050, with 30 per cent more women than men af­fec- ted. The cost to New Zealand is around $1.7 bil­lion and will reach around $5 bil­lion by 2050.

Thurs­day, Septem­ber 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day and Alzheimer’s Manawatu¯ has or­gan­ised an 11.30am Mem­ory Walk on Satur­day 23 from The Square to the Main St Se­nior Cit­i­zens Hall.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/STUFF

MAll Black Nehe Mil­ner-Skudder au­to­graphs the shirt of Leah John­stone (3) watched by Leah’s mother Nikita John­stone and sis­ter Tay­lor John­stone (6) (left) dur­ing last year’s Mem­ory Walk at City Li­brary.

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