17 Jan 2023

Taking the confusion out of dementia support

From Summer Times, 9:10 am on 17 January 2023

Almost 70,000 New Zealanders are living with dementia but finding the right support and resources can be frustrating.

Auckland woman Leslie Harris has created the website Harris List as a one-stop shop for information about dementia and the support available in Aotearoa.

an older woman with a younger woman

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

Good dementia resources are available online but after helping her mother care for her father, Leslie found that they can be spread out and hard to find.

She was studying for a Diploma through Tasmania's Wicking Institute for Dementia Research - which also offers a free eight-week 'Understanding Dementia' course - when she got to thinking about bringing together the best resources on a user-friendly website.

"It was while I was [studying] that I came up with this idea of putting everything together and making a difference, helping everyone else."

Harris List is a "very, very basic website" that's designed to be a dementia-friendly pathway to information for people with the condition, carers and loved ones.

When people get a dementia diagnosis, they often get left behind socially, Leslie says.

"If you get cancer people don't ignore you but if you get dementia your friends can drop off, they can be a bit scared to talk to you… that's something that I really want to work on, teaching people to remember they're still the same person."

On Harris List, you'll find links to videos about some of the common challenges of dementia such as wandering and sundowning.

Leslie encourages anyone who has dementia or is caring for someone with the condition to check out what's on offer.

"It really will support you."

The World Health Organisation has released a global action plan to make dementia a public health priority by 2025.

In the 2022 New Zealand budget, our government allocated $12 million over four years to support the Dementia Mate Action Plan.


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