Dementia, a growing health concern

Dementia describes a group of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Dementia affects peoples thinking, their behaviour and their ability to perform everyday tasks.

Last year there was were 1,089 people living with dementia in East Gippsland.  This figure is expected to rise to over 4,000 by 2050 representing an annual growth of 4.1%.

In 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) created a Dementia Plan for Gippsland.  Two important roles were created from the 2014 plan, including a specialised nursing position to support general practitioners with early dementia diagnosis. 

“Dementia can present in many different ways making it difficult to diagnose,” said Amanda Crombie, dementia nurse practitioner candidate based at Gippsland Lakes Complete Health.  “Dementia is not a normal part of ageing, however as we age and particularly after the age of 75, the chances of developing dementia certainly increases.  There are younger people, sometimes in their 30’s and 40’s who can be impacted by dementia and these situations can be particularly difficult to diagnose.” 

“My role offers help to East Gippsland GP’s and their patients including people at home when required,” Ms Crombie added.

Amanda stresses that not everybody who is experiencing thinking, memory or behavioural changes receive a dementia diagnosis.  “Some treatable medical conditions share similar symptoms and it is important to investigate. I can help people and their GP’s take steps to find out what may be causing these changes.”

A dementia access and support worker position was also created to address the impacts dementia has on a person and their loved ones.  Jenny Robinson was appointed to this position and provides people living with dementia, their families and carers with the knowledge and support to access the services they need.  Based at Latrobe Community Health Services in Bairnsdale, Jenny says, “At different points in time, people living with dementia may require help to access support so they can continue to live well in their own homes. Everyone wants to be able to live in their home as long as is safely possible and I like helping make that happen.”

Both Amanda and Jenny work in partnership with Diane Scott, a counsellor at Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria.  For ten years now, Diane has provided counselling and support throughout Gippsland to people living with dementia, their carers, family and friends.  “To have Amanda and Jenny in their roles is a bonus for the people in this region,” said Ms Scott.  They have improved a collaborative approach to supporting and enabling people to access diagnostic services and access ongoing supports alongside many other support services in this region.”

To remain responsive to the changing needs of Gippslanders living with dementia, their families and carers, the DHHS recently updated their 2014 Dementia Plan for Gippsland in consultation with representatives from a number of local health and aged related services and organisations. 

Kindergym update

NOTE TO PARENTS: All GLCH Kindergyms have ceased for the rest of the school term.  We’ll be back in action on the week commencing  July 17.  Our Bairnsdale Kindergym will only running one session next term at 72 Lucknow Street, from 10.00 – 11.00am due to the cooler weather. Please bring piece of Fruit to share

Our Children’s Centre is creating Eco Warriors!

Gippsland Lakes Complete Health’s Children’s Centre in Lakes Entrance is producing our next generation of ecological warriors via weekly Coastal Kinder outings – a unique part of their four-year-old Kindergarten program.

“Coastal Kinder promotes ecological sustainability and provides opportunities for children to discover and explore their environment,” said Child Care Coordinator, Jodie Jarvis.  “It aims to connect children to their world by getting involved in practical experiences, and in this case, in their unique and special back yard.” 

Each term the children explore several different coastal elements including our local waterways, beaches and tides; land animals and marine life; and weather patterns and events.  Recently the children visited Red Bluff, where they discovered crabs and sandworms and learnt the environmental impact that waste and litter has on our waterways, marine animals and their environments.    

The experienced team of educators at GLCH’s children centre believe that teaching environmental awareness to children at a young age is important for future growth. “Studies show that children who are exposed to a diverse range of natural settings are more creative, have increased physical activity, are more respectful to one another and are more aware of health and good nutrition,” explained Qualified Early Childhood Teacher, Angela Lina.  “It also helps shape relationship skills and critical thinking skills like analysing, questioning, investigating, interpreting data, forming theories, solving problems and developing conclusions.”

Every week the children enjoy taking the bus to beach or the bush. “We get to play with our friends and learn how to look after animals,” said one very enthusiastic participant.

“We’re thrilled by how the children and their parents have embraced our Coastal Kinder program,” Ms Jarvis said.  Many parents tell us that they look forward to their child’s stories and reliving their experiences, and are amazed by the things they’ve learnt.” 

Other Coastal Kinder outings the young eco warriors have undertaken this year include Koala spotting and tree planting on Raymond Island and exploring the Buchan Caves and Ferry Dell, and the educators are looking forward to taking the children on a tour of the Fisherman’s Co-op and a boat safari on the lake to spot marine life.

Find out more about their Children’s Centre’s four-year-old kindergarten program by contacting GLCH or call in and meet their team of early childhood educators at the Children’s Centre open afternoon on 20 June.