CARING Perspectives: Living with Dementia and the Caregiver Experience
Who cares for the caregivers? This is one of the questions that was on the agenda of a public symposium held on Monday 28th November, 2016 at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, UCC, from 2-6pm. The symposium provided a number of different perspectives from key stakeholders on the caregiver experience. Speakers included Professor Eamon O’Shea (NUI, Galway), Ms Vanessa Bradbury (The Alzheimer Society of Ireland), Ms Betty Cogan (The Alzheimers Cafe, Cork), Ms Kathy Ryan (Vice Chair of Irish Dementia Working Group) and Dr Andrew Allen (UCC/APC Microbiome Institute).
An increasing number of people in Ireland are providing care for relatives with dementia. This important unpaid work comes with an underappreciated cost to the health of the caregiver. Evidence suggests that dementia caregiving is associated with heightened psychological stress, as well as other problems such as depression. HRB and HSE funded research at the APC examines the impact of dementia caregiving on the stress levels of caregivers, and how this in turn affects their health and wellbeing. This includes the impact of stress on the gut microbiota as well as the potential of psychological interventions to counteract such effects.
Participating in art-related activities can have significant health benefits to those who are living with dementia or caring for a loved one with dementia. Often therapeutic, art can improve quality of life and create a positive environment. Stemming from the successful Caregiver Stress scientific seminar which took place in June 2016 at UCC, a series of arts workshops were hosted for caregivers and their loved ones to acknowledge their valuable contributions.
Held in collaboration with the Lewis Glucksman Gallery and St Finbarr’s Hospital, the workshops gave caregivers the chance to create unique pieces of artwork that illustrated what dementia caregiving meant to them. They found the experience to be enjoyable and enlightening. The artwork produced will be displayed at the November symposium, which will be hosted by APC and UCC’s Department of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Science and Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation.
An associated Scientific Symposium takes place on 12 December. Full programme at http://apc.ucc.ie/scientific-seminar/
For further information about this project you may be interested in reading this article by Ailin Quinlan in The Irish Examiner: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/looking-after-dementia-patient-can-impact-carer-negatively-432593.html or this one in The Southern Star http://www.southernstar.ie/news/roundup/articles/2016/11/25/4130753-carers-symposium-at-ucc-this-coming-monday/ or this one in Senior Times http://seniortimes.ie/helping-the-helpers/