Griffith University researchers are investigating how to improve the wellbeing of people with early-stage dementia and their carers and the take up of community services that can help them.
The research will involve Dr Gillian Stockwell-Smith from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland studying a group of participants with early-stage dementia within a memory clinic and general medical practice.
Dr Stockwell-Smith said awareness of community services and levels of uptake were generally low in older people and lowest amongst care recipients and carers living with dementia.
“These are often people that are really struggling to cope with their dementia and are reluctant to access any form of support until the later stages of the condition,” Dr Stockwell said.
Dr Stockwell-Smith’s research team has already evaluated the effect of a targeted psychosocial program offered to 45 people in their own homes.
That study aimed to get a better understanding of these people’s lives including how they communicate with others, how they manage their lives and their attitudes towards forward planning, from both a physical care and financial perspective.
“The facilitated discussions that occurred during the program sessions provided an opportunity to identify gaps in the participants’ knowledge of dementia and support programs and promote a pattern of informal and formal use,” said Dr Stockwell-Smith.
“We also saw in post-program evaluations, that participants expressed greater confidence in identifying and assessing community support and there was evidence of them expanding their caring network beyond the primary family carer.
“The program sessions supported the identification and development of a sustainable support network. These are critical elements in empowering people with dementia and their carers in fostering appropriate identification of and access to support along their journey.”
Dr Stockwell-Smith said she was now aiming to replicate the study with another group of participants with early-stage dementia within a memory clinic and general medical practice.
“It’s all about trying to improve and broaden people’s support networks in order to prepare them for their future care.”
Dr Stockwell-Smith will discuss her research as part of several events being held by Griffith Health during September’s Dementia Awareness Month 2017.
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