With a growing ageing population come sickness, diseases and illnesses that need to be managed and treated at a medical and social level. The New South Wales Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) explains that dementia is just one disease that ‘describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain… it is a neurodegenerative process that affects cognition (thinking), communication, behaviour and the ability to do everyday things.’
Dementia affects individuals in different ways, and each person’s experience of Dementia is different. For Kate Swaffer, she was diagnosed with early onset dementia at the age of 49. Swaffer’s first symptoms were different to the majority, and the way she lives and deals with dementia is a unique and inspiring story.
Due to the fact that dementia affects individuals in myriad ways, and isn’t a disease that can be medically treated or cured; managing the symptoms is important. This can be achieved through activities like writing, exercising or even socialising. For Kate, activities like blogging allow her to stay sane, to stay connected and to allow her the opportunity to look back on something to make her remember again.
The ACI shares that there exists many ‘types of support that health professionals can offer to enable people with dementia to continue to live well and enjoy life.’ These include dementia specific therapies like brain training therapies, divisional therapy therapies that comprises of ‘sensory stimulation, animal therapy, cognitive activities, daily activities of living, physical therapies, pastoral therapies and social therapies,’ explains Courtney Alchin, Diversional therapist with NSW health. Such therapies are put in place not only to manage the symptoms of dementia but to also keep a person living with dementia active, alert and occupied.
Below is a video of Courtney Alchin and Sharon Franek, an aged care nurse, explaining and demonstrating how sensory rooms are used as a form of diversional therapy for dementia patients.