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Creating better outcomes for veterans with dementia

Gold Coast veterans with dementia are benefiting from a new research project that provides non-pharmacological approaches to deal with functional and behavioural changes.

Bolton Clarke Research Institute’s Weaving Evidence into Action for Veterans with dementia (WEAVE) project – underway at Bolton Clarke Galleon Gardens, Currumbin Waters - has now earned international recognition, named as a finalist in the 9th Asia Pacific Eldercare Innovation Awards Best Dementia Research category.

Research Fellow Claudia Meyer said the project uses interventions co-designed with residential aged care workers, veterans and families to support veteran wellbeing.

They include therapeutic music, sensory modulation using up to eight senses, reminiscence therapy (including Life Stories work) and structured exercise.

“About 20 per cent of veterans have met the criterial for post-traumatic stress disorder in their lifetime, and people with a history of PTSD are at double the risk of developing dementia,” Dr Meter said.

“Losing capacity and being dependent on others, including through a shift into residential aged care, can re-enact episodes of trauma.

“The project builds on work that included interviews and focus groups with veterans and their families. We co-designed a suite of individual and group-based interventions (delivered by trained staff and volunteers) to reduce responsive behaviours, improve or maintain functional capacity and improve mental health, including treating conditions such as depression and anxiety.

“Families, carers and residents have reported concrete impacts that have contributed to better wellbeing outcomes for veteran residents with dementia.”

“Within weeks we were seeing a change for residents and families were reporting a positive difference in engagement,” Galleon Gardens Diversional Therapist Gwen Bonney said.

“For example one family member said she had been worried about Mum’s cognitive decline and was so excited about the reminiscence work and exercise program and had really noticed the results.”

Winners in the 9th Asia Pacific Eldercare Innovation Awards will be announced in October.