Home' Intouch : In Touch Spring 2017 Contents SPRING 2017 IN TOUCH 9
STAY IN TOUCH AND
PROFESSOR HENRY BRODATY AO AND PROFESSOR
PERMINDER SACHDEV AM, CO-DIRECTORS,
CENTRE FOR HEALTHY BRAIN AGEING (CHeBA)
Being social might have more benefits than just having
a good time. People who have more social contacts are
less likely to develop dementia generally, or Alzheimer’s
disease in particular, about a decade later.
Could this just be reverse causality? The pathological
brain changes involved in Alzheimer’s disease gradually
build over 20-30 years before the disease becomes
apparent. Could it be that social withdrawal occurs
in many people with Alzheimer’s disease because of
subtle brain changes prior to a diagnosis?
However, the dementia risk reduction associated with
a larger social network or social engagement shown
by some epidemiological studies is fairly large. The
population-effect size of increasing social engagement
on delaying dementia disease progression could exceed
that of current Federal Drug Administration approved
medications for Alzheimer’s disease. The positive
effects of social engagement on cognitive function have
been demonstrated even at the level of biomarkers.
Recent MRI studies found associations between the
size and complexity of real-world social networks and
the density of grey matter and amygdala volume – both
markers of healthier brains.
Even for those people who develop Alzheimer’s
disease, larger social networks might modify the level
of symptoms. Non-human research suggests that social
network size could actually contribute to changes both
in brain structure and function, providing further support
for causal links.
Not everyone is keen on being social. For some,
networking at cocktail parties is akin to a living hell.
But there are many ways of connecting for better
mental health. Meaningful engagement can be through
volunteering, joining an exercise group, joining a
computer club or playing bridge. These are especially
important messages in the 21st century as more people
are living alone, particularly in later life.
Find out more about CHeBA at www.cheba.unsw.
edu.au. Professor Brodaty is an Honorary Medical
Advisor to Alzheimer’s Australia NSW.
has expanded its
service to include
Webchat, which allows people to speak in real time to a
Dementia Advisor via a typed online conversation.
Webchat connects people to highly trained staff who can
provide them with a wealth of information, and link them
to a range of resources and support programs.
Webchat provides people with another way to access
the information and services they need to manage
dementia. Living with dementia can be very challenging
and, at times, isolating. Carers also need advice on how to
help themselves when caring for a loved one.
With an estimated 70% of people with dementia living in
the community, there are people who might not be getting
access to all the support and resources they need.
The National Dementia Helpline is a free information and
support telephone, email and web-based service available
across Australia for people with dementia, their carers,
families and friends, health and aged- care professionals,
or people who are concerned about their own or a loved
one’s cognitive decline.
The National Dementia Webchat operates Monday to
Friday from 9am to 5pm EST excluding public holidays.
You can access Webchat on our website at:
OPEN FOR BUSINESS
The Tweed Dementia-Friendly Steering Committee recently
announced the Maddi and Lil Boutique and Kingscliff Beach
Bowling Club as the first two businesses in the area to be
officially accredited as dementia-friendly.
Both organisations have committed to incorporating dementia-
friendly principles into their environments and service procedures
to improve accessibility and inclusiveness for people living with
dementia and their carers.
Maddi and Lil Boutique owner Denise Singleton says she is
proud the business is taking such action.
“We are excited that we are able to make these changes
and do our bit to improve the experience of people living with
dementia and their carers,” Denise says.
John, carer of his wife Barbara who is living with dementia,
says boutique staff offer extra time, patience and assistance to
people managing the challenges dementia presents.
“From my perspective as a male carer, they make me feel
comfortable and look after Barbara really well,” John says.
Greg Follett, operations manager at Kingscliff Beach Bowling
Club, says helping people in the community feel happy and safe
“We have been making our club available to people with
dementia for some time and it’s great to get this recognition. We
are looking forward to the Club making changes to its signage,
which will improve understanding and support people with
dementia to find their way around,” Greg says.
Pamela Payne, carer of husband Keith Heckenberg who is
living with dementia, says as a carer it is wonderful to be in a
place where you know your partner will be acknowledged.
16/8/17 1:58 pm
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