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Here to help . . . New Alzheimers Otago activities co-ordinator Donna Kaiser.

‘‘Life should be lived well,’’ Alzheimers Otago’s new North Otago-based activities co-ordinator Donna Kaiser says.

Miss Kaiser was hired as part of the restructure of Alzheimers Otago, which began at the end of last year.

The second lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions this year had delayed the progression of plans, but Miss Kaiser was in the process of completing two courses through the University of Tasmania on preventing and understanding dementia.

Having held a long interest in natural health, and also caring for her father, who had suffered from vascular dementia before his death four years ago, Miss Kaiser hoped she could support both dementia sufferers and their carers in her new role.

Her job entailed promoting awareness of different forms of dementia, and educating people on the support services available to them, and she would also be running a new cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) programme in the new year.

She covered the area from Palmerston to Kurow.

The evidence-based CST programme would run for seven weeks, twice a week, and was targeted towards people in the early stages of their dementia. Its purpose was to delay the progression of the disease, through activating and stimulating the relevant parts of the brain. Participants would still need to have cognitive function, and be able to interact and communicate, as the sessions took place in small groups, of about six to eight people. The programme had been piloted on a smaller scale in Oamaru previously, but would be ongoing once it began in February, Miss Kaiser said.

When people suspected they or a family member may be affected by dementia, or had a diagnosis, they could contact the organisation. Dunedin-based community educator Kim Ross would visit the person and assess them in their home to determine what services were best for that person.

She would refer them to Miss Kaiser, if she thought the CST programme would be of benefit.

‘‘There is no cure for dementia, but CST has been proven to help slow down the process of acceleration of the dementia, and also improve the quality of life,’’ Miss Kaiser said.

At the end of the seven weeks, participants would be moved in to a weekly maintenance programme, which had the same fundamental principals as CST, but only one session a week.

‘‘It’s an ongoing support programme.’’

Miss Kaiser moved to Oamaru two and a-half years ago, and outside of her new role, she taught restorative yoga at The Movement Hub. She was also a mindfulness facilitator.

‘‘My main interest is in ageing well. That’s why I’m interested in yoga, and health . . . and I’m a great believer that life should be lived well.’’