National | Dementia

Revolutionary therapy for kaumātua with dementia

Kaumātua with mild to moderate memory loss or dementia are to get access to an innovative, personalised therapy that can enhance their quality of life.

The first Cognitive Stimulation Treatment (CST) of its type, Haumanu Whakaohooho Whakāro - Māori was developed by Dr Makarena Dudley (Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kahu), a researcher at the Centre of Brain Research at Waipapa Taumata Rau, with funding from Alzheimers NZ.

"CST has shown to improve cognitive functioning and quality of life with people who are in the early to moderate stages of dementia," Dudley says.

"But I think for any intervention to be effective, it must fit within the cultural context of the person who is receiving it.

"There was evidence of this when we spoke to kaumātua with mate wareware on the marae for that window of time, all the difficulties they were experiencing – the confusion, the inability to find the right words, and so on – disappeared.

"And so Haumanu Whakaohooho Whakāro – Māori has been embedded within a Māori environment, both physically and mentally."

Seven-week course

The therapy consists of 15 activity-based sessions with groups of up to eight persons who meet twice weekly for seven weeks.

Each session has a particular focus based on the theoretical concepts of reality orientation, validation, recollection and cognitive stimulation.

They can include subjects that enhance thinking and memory recall, such as sounds, orientation, childhood, kai, physical activities and current events.

"There is very little support available for whānau living with mate wareware in the community, and it's essential for participants to have fun and enjoy the sessions," Dudley says.

"CST can address that gap by providing a platform for whānau to engage in a programme that has the potential to slow down the progress of mate wareware, in an environment that is embedded in tikanga Māori and Te Ao Māori."

Alzheimers NZ, is thrilled to have collaborated with Dr Dudley, its chief executive, Catherine Hall says.

“This work is incredibly important as it will support Māori and people living with dementia mate wareware to live their best possible lives in their communities,” Hall said.

Māori handbook launch

Te Mahurehure Marae (Tāmaki Makaurau) will host the publication of the Haumanu Whakaohooho Whakāro - Māori handbook on Wednesday, March 1.

Clinical neuropsychologist Dr Tai Kake (Ngāpuhi), Alzheimers NZ's Dementia Learning Centre director Dr Kathy Peri and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Auckland's School of Medicine, Dr Gary Cheung, will all be acknowledged for their contribution to the project.

Following the launch Dudley will collaborate with Alzheimers NZ to educate CST facilitators and then assist in delivering the customised programmes.

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