Home' East and Bays Courier : January 5th 2011 Contents 9
EAST & BAYS COURIER, JANUARY 5, 2011
Dementia -- the silent epidemic
Silent disease: Muriel Payne, right, is one of 43,000 New Zealanders who suffers with some form of dementia. Her daughter Marion Whittam cares for her fulltime.
Photo: FIONA GOODALL
As New Zealand's
population ages, a
dementia epidemic is
Sarah Moyes talks to a
carer whose mother has
the debilitating brain
Unhealthy brain: A comparison of a
brain with dementia at the top and a
'normal' brain below. The disease kills
Photo: CENTRE FOR BRAIN RESEARCH
On the outside Muriel Payne looks
like a normal woman of almost 90
It s hard for people to realise
there is a problem. There is no
physical evidence, daughter
Marion Whittam says.
It s a silent disease. They don t
Mrs Payne has dementia -- her
dying brain cells mean her mind is
slowly slipping away.
Some days she s okay, other days
her mind has returned to another
place and another time. At times
she s reliving her youth,
remembering things from 60 or 70
years ago as if they had just
happened the day before.
Mrs Whittam of Glendowie is her
fulltime carer -- an unpaid occu-
pation held by thousands of New
Two and a half years ago the now
89-year-old Mrs Payne was diag-
nosed with vascular dementia. She
joins 11,000 people in Auckland,
and 43,000 people in New Zealand
who have some form of the degener-
ative brain disease.
The most well-known and com-
mon form is Alzheimers. It is a con-
dition associated with forgetfulness
and memory loss. Vascular
dementia is the second most com-
mon and is often caused by multiple
strokes. Symptoms of the two con-
ditions are similar, but the pro-
gression of each is quite different.
It s not known how Mrs Payne
came to get the disease. Mrs Whit-
tam believes it was to do with a fall
her mother had four years ago.
She fell down the escalator at the
airport. From top to bottom.
I think it stemmed from there,
Mrs Whittam says.
Two weeks after the fall, strange
things started happening. Mrs
Payne kept blacking out.
Before the accident, Mrs Payne
was living alone. Now she lives in
her daughter s home and needs help
with the simplest things -- from
having a shower, right down to
making a cup of tea.
According to Alzheimers Auck-
land more than half of dementia
sufferers are cared for at home. The
idea that as soon as someone is
diagnosed with the disease they are
shipped off to a resthome is a myth.
Alzheimers Auckland general
manager Bonnie Robinson says gen-
erally after a diagnosis the person
has about seven years to live.
The majority of that time is not
at a resthome, she says.
It s not just the person affected
with the disease that it s hard for --
it s also difficult for the people
around them, particularly the one
or two people who are the carers,
Ms Robinson says.
In as many ways it s harder on
the carer than the person with the
The organisation, part of Alzhei-
mers New Zealand, reaches out and
helps carers and dementia sufferers
in the community.
It first started as a volunteer
organisation 25 years ago to raise
awareness and give support for
people with dementia and their
Until then many family
caregivers were dying before the
person with dementia because of
Ms Robinson says there are now
dementia workers spread across
Auckland who support families
throughout the entire disease.
We will stay for the whole
The demand for their services is
continually increasing. Ms Robinson
says the number of people with
dementia is growing by 3 percent
Our resources aren t growing.
Unless we do something we will be
facing a crisis.
It is estimated that by 2026 there
will be about 74,000 New Zealand-
ers with some form of dementia.
This figure will increase again to
almost 147,000 by 2050.
Home Instead Senior Care is an
organisation dedicated to providing
in-home, non-medical care and
services for the elderly.
They offer housekeeping, per-
sonal care, meal preparation and
basically anything else that is non-
Over a 12-month period the
organisation saw a 25 percent
increase in requests from families of
Alzheimers sufferers asking for
Neil Farnworth of Home Instead
Senior Care says that in 2008 the
cost associated with caring for
dementia sufferers was estimated to
be $712.9 million and likely to
In reality the government only
has a certain amount of funding to
distribute around the health sector.
Families of dementia sufferers
will be one of the many groups who
will face difficult decisions in look-
ing at options for care for their loved
ones, if funding levels are reduced.
General manager Maggie Calvert
hopes the government will step in
and acknowledge the fact dementia
is only going to get worse.
Just because they are at the
other end of their life doesn t mean
they don t deserve funding.
She says the only hope for
dementia sufferers in the future is
private care -- which she says isn t a
Alzheimers New Zealand is push-
ing for more support for at-home
They say dementia will cost New
Zealand $1 billion by 2050.
A report into the aged care sector
released in October by the Labour
Party, the Green Party and Grey
Power says age care must be
The Report into Aged Care recom-
mends better home support for
older people. This particularly
includes more respite care for
Mrs Whittam wishes there were
more respite programmes available
for her mother.
As things progress it will be
more difficult to look after her at
She hopes a respite programme
could be a stepping stone into event-
ual permanent care.
Like many other carers, Mrs
Whittam has a lot more going on in
her life that she must deal with --
including a daughter in a
What has helped Mrs Whittam
deal with the situation is receiving
help from Alzheimers Auckland.
She attended a carer education
course which she recommends to
anyone caring for someone with
Go to www.alzheimers.co.nz for
more information about support for
dementia sufferers and carers.
Young futsal side has talent to perform in national league
By AMY McGILLIVRAY
Futsal is not a high profile sport but
a new national league is aiming to
East City Futsal Indoor Soccer
Club is the only Auckland club with
a team in the national league which
kicked off in Wellington last month.
Coach of the Kohimarama-based
side Nathan Robertson says the
tournament should increase inter-
est in the sport.
It s developing the game a lot
further. It s putting it out there, he
His is a younger squad than East
City has previously had but he is
confident their skill and energy will
see them do well.
There s a lot of talent. We ve got
a good chance of doing fairly well.
The New Zealand Football Futsal
National League pits the Auckland
team against sides from Dunedin,
Wellington, Christchurch, Mana-
watu and New South Wales.
The first round of the competition
saw East City come away with a
draw, two wins and two losses,
putting them in third place ahead of
the second tournament.
Robertson says the Australian
team, who beat them by one goal
scored from a penalty in the final
moments, provides a challenge.
Australia are very strong at fut-
sal. They are always pretty hard to
With five current Futsal Whites
in their squad, Wellington is also
East City, who have two goalies
and two players in the national side,
put up a good fight against the
home team in the first round but
They ll work hard. Everyone in
the team is more than capable of
getting into the Futsal Whites,
The second tournament of the
competition will be held in Dunedin
in February with the third and final
round in Auckland in March.
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