Support for families dealing with dementia.

LtoR: Teresa Gardner (Day Club Assistant), Arlene Tucker (Coordinator Day Club), Karen Malone (McCusker Nurse South)
LtoR: Teresa Gardner (Day Club Assistant), Arlene Tucker (Coordinator Day Club), Karen Malone (McCusker Nurse South)

According to Alzheimer’s Australia, dementia affects around 24,700 Australians aged under 65.

Not-for-profit aged and community care organisation Amana Living employs dementia specialists who are turning their attention to early-onset dementia, having seen younger clients attend the dementia-specific day club at Amana’s Bull Creek facility, the Lefroy Day Club.

The Bull Creek site is also the base of Amana’s new fulltime McCusker dementia nurse servicing Perth suburbs south of the Swan River, east to Tonkin Highway and as far south as Thomas Road, Kwinana.

Karen Malone began in the new role earlier this month after working as Perth’s sole McCusker dementia nurse north of the river since 2011.

She offers free support and advice to the carers and families of people living with dementia in Perth’s southern suburbs, including notifying them about Amana’s services such as the day centre, respite facilities and residential care.

Amana Living CEO Ray Glickman said the circumstances and needs of younger people living with dementia were often quite different from those of older people.

‘For a start, people in their 40s will want to listen to very different music from our clients in their 80s,’ Mr Glickman said.

‘Many of them will have young families and partners left struggling to cope financially, practically and emotionally. We aim to support the families as much as the people living with dementia, and this needs careful thought and individualised services.’

The day club offers a new program to enable younger people with dementia to get out and about safely with a high ratio of skilled staff, engaging with the community and activities they enjoyed before diagnosis.

‘For example, one client used to be a runner, and still has a keen desire to run, so Amana is teeing up visits to a sports centre where he can run regularly, accompanied by a young, fit volunteer, in a safe environment,’ Mr Glickman said.

Prior to the role of McCusker Nurse, Ms Malone was employed by Alzheimer’s Australia WA as a Behaviour Consultant for the Dementia Behaviour Advisory Service, which is funded by the Commonwealth Government to provide psycho-social strategies to reduce challenging behaviours of people living with dementia.

She is passionate about providing practical advice, support and guidance to enable people living with dementia to remain living at home for as long as is safe and practicable, surrounded by their supportive family, in an environment that fosters independence.