Groundwater Lodge resident Norma Hatch and diversional therapist Ivy McAuley wearing activity aprons.
Groundwater Lodge resident Norma Hatch and diversional therapist Ivy McAuley wearing activity aprons. Valerie Horton

Aprons aid dementia sufferers

THE unassuming kitchen apron has been fashioned into a new tool to help people suffering dementia.

The Groundwater Lodge in Granville is using aprons with extra features such as buttons, zippers, pockets and shiny objects to stimulate the minds of dementia patients.

Diversional therapist Ivy McAuley worked with Maryborough aged-care nurse Toni Kenny to develop the aprons after introducing a similar idea with a tablecloth two years ago.

In the three months since the lodge put them to use, staff has seen reduced agitation, more socialising and an increased recall of memories among patients.

Groundwater Lodge care manager Steve Leggett said some dementia sufferers could engage in concerning behaviours such as removal of clothing and fidgeting.

"Activity aprons are designed to provide different tactile, auditory and visual stimuli giving people with dementia opportunities to do familiar activities such as removing and placing items in pockets, and fastening and unfastening items such as buttons and zippers," he said.

"Often people with dementia become agitated so the aprons function as a calming tool helping the person to enjoy a quiet sit-down activity."

Resident Norma Hatch is one of 20 at the lodge who use the aprons.

The next project for Ms McAuley will be a small tablecloth.

Groundwater Lodge also uses activity boards for the men in their dementia wings and has seen particular success for one patient who was an engineer.

Mr Leggett said dementia was a collection of symptoms caused by disorders affecting the brain.

"It is not one specific disease and it affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks," he said.

"Dementia interferes with the person's normal life and tools like the activity aprons help with the symptoms of the disease."

A report from Alzheimer's Australia released last year showed Wide Bay had one of the highest rates of dementia across the country in 2011, with more than 2000 cases.

The Hinkler electorate is expected to have the highest rate of dementia prevalence in Australia by 2030 with a predicted 6100 cases.



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