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A Light In The Darkness For People Living With Dementia

On the longest night of the year, Monday 21st June, Dementia Auckland is asking people to support those on their dementia journey, and their caregivers, that there can be light amid the darkness of dementia by leaving a light on in their homes.

Rhonda Preston-Jones, Clinical Lead at Dementia Auckland says, “not surprisingly, there’s a lot of focus on the losses and challenges of dementia. But the reality is for many years people with dementia can still live well and enjoy life. Even in the later stages people can still find pockets of joy and laughter.”

Auckland-based Noeline Lincoln was diagnosed with dementia at age 76.

“Having a sad face growing up was always a no-no in my Nana’s house,” says her granddaughter. “She always knew how to snap us out of it. I remember she had a long index finger on her right hand that she used to call her wiggly worm, if there was any sign of a sad face she would say, ‘Now we can’t have that lemon face, I’ll get out the wiggly worm’ and she would tickle us until we laughed.

“In the late stages of her dementia when in care, she couldn’t remember who I was and had few words, but one particular day she leaned in to me and wriggled her finger while trying to speak. I could see the recognition in her eyes, that moment of connection. A precious moment of joy that I will treasure always,” she says.

A dementia diagnosis is the start of a challenging journey and one that is becoming increasingly familiar in New Zealand, with the number of people living with dementia expected to reach 170,000 by 2050, costing an estimated $5 billion in healthcare.

In support of this growing issue, Dementia Auckland provides support and education for caregivers and facilitates groups for people living with dementia. This Monday, the longest night of the year, they are encouraging Aucklanders to “leave a light on” for someone with dementia, to highlight the moments of joy in amongst the darkness. This appeal is also to provide vital funding after the organisation has taken a significant financial hit off the back of COVID-19, with one million dollars of funding required to meet the need for essential services to support the City’s expanding dementia community.

Those wishing to support people living with dementia and the people who care for them, can make an online donation today via - longestnight.nz/#donate.

For more information about Dementia Auckland and the services, they provide visit dementiaauckland.org.nz.

Anyone concerned about changes in memory or dementia are encouraged to get in touch with their GP, health professional or call Dementia New Zealand’s helpline on 0800 433 636.

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