Two new resources that support the well-being of people in the Deaf community who also live with dementia have been launched at the recent International Dementia Conference 2020.
“Deafness and Dementia: Interpreting changes in behaviour” provides information on support services and how the environment, communication, and care approaches can enable the person who is Deaf and living with dementia to maintain engagement with their community.
Dementia Centre Director A/Prof Colm Cunningham said that while general information, advice, and support for people living with dementia is readily available, there are no suitable resources in Australia for Deaf people.
“We have developed two versions of the booklet. One for family and friends of a deaf person with dementia and the second for care staff,” he said.
“These resources, which are freely available to download from the Dementia Centre website, build on the work of the British Deaf Association and are specifically designed for the Australian context.”
The booklets provide practical tips and approaches specifically targeted for Deaf people, who were born deaf or who have lost their hearing later in life, and are living with dementia. These strategies, which can be different for deaf people with dementia, enable them to be supported well to live at home and in aged care.
“The Deafness and Dementia Booklets, thanks to the grant from the Deafness Foundation, will promote a better understanding of the impact of dementia and the specific needs of deaf people,” said Colm Cunningham.
At the launch, Lisa-Jane Moody, Director of the Deafness Foundation, outlined the focus of the foundation was to fund grassroots projects that raise awareness, and improve access and social inclusion of deaf people.
“The stand out for me (of the booklets) is the practical advice that is included all the way through and case studies that help you understand the interactions between the two conditions and how to support behaviours,” she said.
A plenary speaker at the International Dementia Conference, Mary Jane Grant from Maine in the USA, who was raised by deaf parents and whose mother now lives with dementia, provided advice in the production of these booklets and wrote the foreword.
Videos of her heart-warming interactions with her mother in the context of deafness and dementia have been viewed by millions of people across the globe.
In these booklets the knowledge and experience of members of the Deaf community and carers, has been brough together with dementia experts.