An impressive line-up of international and local speakers will present at Alzheimers New Zealand’s three-day conference later this month.

Starting October 25 in Auckland, the conference will explore the major dementia challenge facing New Zealand. Dementia is one of this country’s most serious unmet health needs, affecting four out of five Kiwis in some way. There are nearly 70,000 New Zealanders with dementia now and that number is expected to almost triple to 170,000 by 2050. Dementia dramatically changes the lives of people who live with it and it will have major personal, societal and fiscal impacts in the years ahead.

The conference aims to address these challenges, among others, through learning from international experience and research, local case studies and panel debate sessions. Topics such as restraint in dementia care, advance care planning and financial abuse all come under the microscope in the jam-packed programme.

Among the international and local speakers this year are:

  • Professor Alison Wray: Professor in Language and Communication, Cardiff University, Professor Wray will illustrate how communication shapes the dementia experience in her talk titled ‘Mind what you say’. On October 26,  she will demonstrate methods to developing resilience in communication.
  • Phyllis Fehr: a board member of the Dementia Alliance International – a collaboration of like-minded individuals diagnosed with dementia who provide a unified voice – Fehr will speak of the importance of citizenship and rights for people with dementia on 25 October.
  • Professor Lee-Fay Low: an Associate Professor of Aging and Health from the University of Sydney, Professor Low will, alongside Dementia Advocate/Peer Supporter Bobby Redman, present ‘Prescribing engagement: Supporting people recently diagnosed with dementia’ on 25 October. Additionally, she will invoke a systematic review of attitudes and practices of health practitioners with her question, ‘why aren’t people with dementia told their diagnosis?’.
  • Dr Margaret Dudley: clinical psychologist and University of Auckland lecturer, Dr Margaret Dudley (Te Rarawa, Te Aupōuri and Ngāti Kahu) is currently undertaking a three-year Health Research Council-funded Postdoctoral Fellowship to develop Māori-focused standards for thinking/cognitive performance. On 27 October she will speak to the Māori approach of assessing and managing dementia.
  • Matthew Croucher: Psychiatrist of Old Age Christchurch and leader of the South Island Dementia Initiative, Croucher will convene a day focused on ‘what works’ on the second day of the conference. He will also explore the importance of living well with dementia and how we think about it.

This year’s event builds on the 2016 conference, which was also the 19th Asia Pacific Regional conference. In a world first, 20 per cent of the nearly 400 attendees were people with dementia and their care partners.

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