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September is World Alzheimer’s Month — a time to shine a light for the 35.6 million people globally living with Alzheimer’s.
Appointed to the role in July, Mrs McLean has been busy learning the ropes of Alzheimers Otago, getting to know the team in Dunedin, Central Otago, and Oamaru, and preparing for awareness month activities.
With a background in the NGO sector, she comes to Alzheimers Otago from her previous role at Playcentre Aotearoa, and has been busy increasing her knowledge.
‘‘It is a change for me, to move into health and aged care, but it fits with my experience in the not-for-profit sector,’’ Mrs McLean said.
Alzheimers Otago works with about 260 people with dementia and their families in the Otago region, with its core services aimed at support those caring for someone with dementia, and helping people deal with the day to day challenges of living with dementia.
The small team of staff provides community education and programmes from the Dunedin head office and regional offices.
‘‘We work with people in their homes and through small groups — education is an important part of our work,’’ she said.
Under the Covid-19 restrictions, the organisation has suspended all face-to-face interactions, and is instead providing support over the phone.
Alzheimers Otago maintains close ties with Alzheimer’s researcher Associate Professor Yorum Barak, of the University of Otago Department of Psychological Medicine, who is able to share and explain the latest research in accessible language.
‘‘It is very helpful for us as an organisation to have an expert such as Prof Barak available to us.’’
Mrs McLean said the numbers of people living with Alzheimer’s continues to grow as the population ages, and Oamaru is host to the highest proportion of over 65s in the country.
In order to continue its work, Alzheimers Otago must raise funds and, with the annual street appeal up in the air due to Covid, it has multiple online donation options.
A popular activity with people fond of the outdoors is the Move for Dementia programme, in which people can set themselves an activity challenge and get sponsors to raise funds.
Details of options for fundraising and donations can be found on the Alzheimers Otago website alzheimersotago.org.nz