Short films, podcast, robotic pets shared for dementia week

The National Ageing Research Institute, Curtin University and the University of South Australia are among organisations who launched initiatives this week to raise awareness about dementia.

The National Ageing Research Institute and Curtin University have developed a series of short films in four different languages to educate culturally and linguistically diverse communities about dementia.

The 12 short films highlight the importance of early diagnosis of dementia to enable better treatment and quality of life in Italian, Greek, Vietnamese and Spanish.

They also provide practical tips and information about services available to families caring for someone living with dementia.

The films, which were launched this week to mark Dementia Action Week, adds to the first series of 15 short films in Hindi, Tamil, Mandarin, Cantonese and Arabic as part of NARI and Curtin University’s federal-funded Moving Pictures project that launched in 2019.

Project lead Professor Bianca Brijnath said the Moving Pictures project aimed to make dementia and aged care services more inclusive for non-English speaking communities.

“With nearly 30 per cent of Australians aged over 65 born overseas, mainly in non-English speaking countries, there are growing concerns that the prevalence of dementia in some CALD communities could increase by more than 650 per cent in the years to come,” said Professor Brijnath, director of social gerontology at NARI.

“Through Moving Pictures, we are sharing the stories and experiences of people living with dementia and their carers in a range of languages to raise awareness and provide support and information,” she said.

Access the short films.

Podcast shares insights on dementia

Elsewhere to mark Dementia Action Week and World Alzheimer’s Day, the University of South Australia has launched a podcast series this week.

The seven-part Re-imagining Ageing podcast series, which has been developed in partnership with Radio Adelaide, aims to provide insights and research on how to live and age well and reduce the risk of dementia.

Topics explored in the series include living well with dementia, building muscle health, maintaining independence, complementary medicines and positive ageing behaviours.

The series is presented by the executive producer of Radio Adelaide’s Travelling Life program, Dr Christina Hagger whose PhD explored the impact of tourism on post retirement life satisfaction.

Project lead Dr Ashleigh Smith said an active and healthy lifestyle played an important role in reducing the risk of dementia later in life.

“While there is no known cure, between 40-48 per cent dementia after the age of 65 in Australia can be potentially avoided through modifiable factors such as improved physical activity, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy, balanced diet.

“Being physically active is especially important as it boosts blood flow to the brain and enhances neuroplasticity, which is vital for learning new things and forming new memories,” Dr Smith said.

“But the key is being informed – and that’s where our podcast series comes in,” she said.

Access the podcast on SoundCloud or Spotify.

Residents benefit from robotic pets

A Bolton Clarke resident with Moreton Bay Regional Council councillor Adam Hain

Aged care residents with dementia at Bolton Clarke Fernhill have welcomed new robotic companion pets as part of Dementia Action Week celebrations.

The 10 robotic pets, which include a cats and dogs, are designed to help people with dementia and others connect with memories and feelings associated with pets.

Bolton Clarke Fernhill residential manager Anna Ward said research showed positive benefits from interacting with and providing care for pets, including robotic varieties.

“Our residents have loved meeting these new companion pets, which have provided opportunities for people to share memories,” Ms Ward said. 

The robotic pets were funded by a $2,000 Moreton Bay Regional Council Local Community Grant program.

Mayor of the Moreton Bay Region Peter Flannery said residents have come to life after spending time with the robotic companion pets.

“It’s amazing to see their faces light up with pure joy when they interact these amazing new robotic pet companions,” Mr Flannery said.

“Residents in aged care homes have been some of the most isolated people during COVID-19 due to their high risk, so this couldn’t have come at a better time,” Mr Flannery said.

Dementia Action Week runs from 20 – 26 September and World Alzheimer’s Day takes place on 21 September.

Main image: A Bolton Clarke Fernhill resident and staff member with a robotic companion pet

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Tags: bolton clarke, curtin university, dementia, dementia action week, national ageing research institute, university of south australia, world alzheimers day,

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