September 20, 2023

Dementia Action Week: Act now for a dementia-friendly future

Dementia Action Week (18 – 24 September) encourages everyone to take a few simple actions to create a dementia-friendly future for all Australians.

Dementia is the umbrella term for a number of neurological conditions, of which the major symptom is a decline in brain function. Dementia is a disease symptom and is not a normal part of ageing, with more than 100 diseases that may cause dementia. The most common causes of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.

According to Dementia Australia, around two-thirds of people with dementia live in the community. A lack of knowledge and understanding of dementia may lead people living with dementia experiencing stigma and discrimination in the community.

At Northern Health, the Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service (CDAMS) is a specialist diagnostic clinic which aims to assist people with memory loss, or changes to their thinking, and those who support them. Early diagnosis is important to determine appropriate treatment needs and to plan for the future.

The CDAMS provides:

  • Expert clinical diagnosis
  • Information on appropriate treatments
  • Education, support and information
  • Direction in planning for the future
  • Information on dealing with day-to-day issues
  • Links and information for clients and their family regarding other service providers or community supports.

CDAMS operates across Bundoora Centre, Broadmeadows Hospital and Craigieburn Centre, with clinics running over four days of the week depending on the site.

The program is focused on a multidisciplinary approach including geriatrician, psychogeriatrician, geriatric registrar, neuropsychologist, occupational therapist, social worker and dementia nurse consultant.

The team provides holistic management for many older clients who have dementia and for their carers. With the changing demographic of the Northern Health population, this team manages clients with increasingly complex social needs.

Since commencing at Bundoora Extended Care in 1997 with two geriatricians and a nurse working one session a week, the services have expanded and grown to meet the needs of the community. Today, there are up to 12 geriatrician sessions a week with full multidisciplinary support.

Dr Michael Farber has worked in the team for 13 years. He says, “CDAMS is a challenging but rewarding environment to work in with a very supportive and collegiate team of staff.”

Danielle Courtney, Neuropsychologist, said it was great to work in a team where neuropsychology input into the diagnostic process was valued.

“I really enjoy working with our patients who are from such diverse backgrounds, it’s a privilege to hear them share stories from their lives, during a particularly vulnerable time,” she said.

Featured image: CDAMS clinic teams across Northern Health.