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Teeing off on younger onset dementia

A new golf group at West Beach is part of an innovative project that aims to transform the way services for people with younger onset dementia are delivered in South Australia.

The weekly golf group kicked off in November with help from an ACH Group Foundation grant and support from Alzheimer’s Australia (SA) through the Younger Onset Dementia Key Worker Program.

Each participant is living with younger onset dementia, a condition that occurs in people under 65 years old.

The program is run by a golf professional from Adelaide Shores Golf Club, with support from an ACH Group support worker and volunteer.

The program is coordinated by Louise Bower, through Swan Cottage respite services, and is also being supported as part of ACH Group’s Tailor Made Project, which aims to develop a ‘tailor made’ respite model for younger people living with dementia, their families and carers.

Tailor Made explores the notion that other forms of respite care can provide better outcomes for both the person with dementia and their carer or family member.

Dementia Learning and Development Unit Senior Project Officer Kelly Quinlan says there is a lack of specific services to cater for this group, which numbers about 2,500 across the state.

She says most encounter challenges in accessing services that are mostly provided through the aged care sector, and may not be appropriate for their age, level of fitness or interests.

“People often have younger children and mortgages and might still be working at the time of diagnosis,” she says. “People also tell us that their social networks fall away because people just don’t know how to deal with it – it’s not easy.”

She says being engaged in the community, physically active and having opportunities to learn new things are all important.

Group member Ian Drummond, a former police officer who had to retire early due to his diagnosis, says the social and physical benefits of the golf group are invaluable.

“We help each other out where we can, and we have a bit of fun – we don’t take things too seriously,” he says. “It’s great to get outside to have a go at golf and with others who know what you’re going through.”

To find out more about the Tailor Made Project contact Kelly Quinlan on 8159 3462 or email kquinlan@ach.org.au