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News and Education

World Alzheimer's and Dementia Awareness Month - Together We Can Do So Much

September is World Alzheimer’s and Dementia Awareness Month. So many New Zealanders are affected by a diagnosis of dementia and you can help us to provide the services that we know enable them to live well with dementia.

Our Living Well groups enable people living with dementia to engage in activities with their peers that spark joy and bring moments of light in the darkness – can you help someone attend a living well session for $35?

Part of our purpose is to help those with a diagnosis of dementia remain living well, in their own homes for longer by providing education and support to them and their carers and whānau. Making a donation today will help us continue to make a difference and help those affected by a dementia diagnosis to live well at home.

Dementia Wellington's Supporter Groups provide companionship and support with other carers and whānau, and are an essential part of being able to live well with dementia for many people. Together, we can do so much!

Click HERE to donate, or donate directly to our bank account: Dementia Wellington Charitable Trust ASB 12-3142-0258625-50 (Please use your name and supporter ID if known in the reference fields.) 

Sleep disturbances with dementia and caregiving


Rosie Gibson has been undertaking research concerning sleep with ageing, dementia, and caregiving over the last ten years. This has involved studies talking to families living with dementia, analysing data in large-scale studies, and trialling strategies to improve sleep. Some key findings include:

  • Sleep health is important! Sleep status is strongly related to physical and mental health, including use of medications, waking function, falls, and care service needs.
  • Sleep problems are reported by 25-30% of older New Zealanders. Problems frequently reported by older participants include poor sleep quality, shorter sleep, waking too early, increased toilet trips, daytime sleepiness, or specific sleep disorders (like sleep apnoea or restless legs).
  • Some people with dementia talk about unique sleep disruptions. These include increased issues falling asleep and staying asleep at night, confused awakenings, and more frequent or vivid dreams. Clinical sleep disorders also appear more common. Unsurprisingly, this can also mean feeling more tired in the daytime.
  • Caregiving responsibilities affect sleep. In our survey across regional dementia services, around 65% of family carers reported disturbed sleep. More severe sleep problems were related to the sleep and needs of the care recipient as well as the carers own health, wellbeing, and living status.
  • Sleep changes across the transitions of ageing, dementia, and caregiving. Our interview studies identify that sleep is informed by who we are, our personal preferences, and responsibilities and events of waking life. All such factors change as we get older. Carers spoke about sleep getting “progressively worse” for both parties as dementia progressed. They also reported feeling a need to be “on high alert” which hindered their ability to sleep. Furthermore, when sleep became very disrupted, this impacted feeling well and able to manage the caregiving situation.
  • Supporting sleep is useful for wellbeing. Managing the unique sleep disturbances associated with dementia can be challenging. However, some studies identify unique strategies and information which help adapt how we consider and manage sleep disturbances as well practices associated which can support more robust rhythms of sleep and wake with ageing, dementia, and caregiving.    


Dr Rosie Gibson is a Senior Lecturer at Massey University where she conducts research concerning sleep with aging and dementia. For more information on sleep see our April NewsletterThe Australian Sleep Health Foundation

This year to mark the longest night, Tuesday, 21 June 2022, we are joining with other Dementia NZ Affiliates across the motu to bring light to the darkness of dementia. The Longest Night campaign is our way of highlighting the services we provide that are a light in the darkness. We will be sharing stories on social media and invite you to support us by donating to the Longest Night campaign. 


Community singing for people with cognitive memory loss

Dementia choirs are popular, well researched, established interventions overseas. Australia is running one of the biggest multi-million-dollar research in the world, looking at the effects of music for those living with dementia and quality of life.

For a few years now there has been interest in piloting one in the Hutt Valley. Rani Allan, owner of Music for Life a private music therapy practice is well known in the Hutt Valley and together with her team, has worked with many people with dementia with great success. One of her clients was Barbara Green, former opera singer who responded well to Rani's warmth and empathy. At the beginning of a session Barbara could be passive and unresponsive, a couple of songs in, her foot would be tapping, then she would be humming and engaging with the music. Music uses many parts of the brain and people with dementia who can no longer speak coherently, can often still sing and thus engage with others. Old memories usually include music, so songs from childhood and youth will be remembered. Barbara particularly loved ‘Pokarekare ana’, ‘You are my Sunshine’ and ‘Madame Butterfly”.

Barbara's partner Jenny asked Rani to sing at Barbara's funeral last year, in part as a tribute to all the many people who helped care for Barbara in the last part of her journey with dementia. Generous donations were made in Barbara's name to Dementia Wellington and together with money from Hutt Council Creative Community Grant and Barbara's estate, sufficient money was raised to support a music group for people with cognitive memory loss in the Hutt Valley.

The group meets fortnightly on a Friday afternoon at 2.30pm for tea and coffee, then singing with Rani from 3pm to 4pm. No musical experience is required and carers are welcome to join in. We meet at Petone Baptist church, 38 Buick street. Vaccination certificates are required and we will operate within Covid restrictions.

Contact Jenny Williams 04 5627124, 027 2219460 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information and to register your interest.

The next session is 4 March, followed by 18 March, 1 April, a break over Easter, then 29 April, 13 May, 27 May, 10 June, 8 July, 22 July, 5 Aug, 19 August, 2nd September, 16 September, 30 September, 14 October, 28 October, 11 November, 25 November, 9 December. It is important to register your contact details in case of any change to this.

Dementia Wellington's Connect Newsletter

Our Connect newsletter has recently moved to an email format. Now designed to be published every two months - it's about keeping you up-to-date with our services, education events, and letting you know about anything that can help with your journey with dementia - either as a person with dementia or a carer. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter if you haven't already!

Please let us know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions on how we can make the newsletter more interesting and useful to you by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read the latest Connect 2022 - Toru issue by clicking below: 

Connect 2022 - Rima


Previous issues of Connect

Connect 2022 - Whā

Connect 2022 - Toru

Connect 2022 - Rua

Connect 2022 - Tahi

Spring 2021

Christmas 2020

Winter 2020
March 2020
Christmas 2019

Dementia Advisors contact details


If you aren't already working with a Dementia Advisor, please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  


K­āpiti Dementia Advisor

Sheena Farquhar This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  phone 020 4069 3919 


Porirua Dementia Advisor

Debbie Mustard This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  phone 020 4176 6629 


Central Wellington Dementia Advisor

Tina Carter This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  phone 020 4112 2196


Hutt Valley Dementia Advisor/Educator

Sarah Togher This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  phone  020 4025 2329


Dementia Advisor Referrals/Living Well Co-ordinator

Jackie Cole This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  phone 020 4025 2330 

Dementia Essentials seminars - What you need to know about dementia

Dementia Wellington has developed a series of seminars to answer the most common questions we get about dementia.

Each topic will be presented by a subject matter expert, with opportunity for questions and discussion.

These seminars are open to anyone who supports somebody with dementia - you can register for all or just come along to one to find out about a specific topic.

These seminars are free although koha is much appreciated.


VENUE – Johnsonville Community Centre, 3 Frankmoore Avenue

TIME - 1.30pm -3pm  Tuesdays

 Session  Topic
 25 Oct 2022  Understanding Changed Behaviour
 1 Nov 2022   Communicating Effectively
 8 Nov 2022  EPOA responsibilities & Advanced Care Planning
 15 Nov 2022  Preparing for Day Programme/ Respite/Long term care
 22 Nov 2022  Staying Engaged and connected
 29 Nov 2022  Dealing with Grief and Loss


To find out more or to register, please contact Sarah Togher on 020 4025 2329 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Please note - As instructed by the Ministry of Health, all Dementia Wellington staff are fully vaccinated against Covid 19. To minimise risk to our clients, we request that only those that are vaccinated or are exempt from vaccination attend. While we encourage everyone to be vaccinated if possible, we continue to support unvaccinated members of our community by one-on-one appointments, telephone, Zoom or other electronic mediums. 

Dementia Wellington runs lots of activities for people affected by dementia across the wider Wellington region - from Kapiti, Porirua, Wellington and the Hutt Valley. 

These include our Cog Cafes (short for 'Cognition' cafes) which are casual monthly meet-ups for people with dementia and their supporters, family or carers.

There are also regular Supporter Groups that are specifically designed for those who are caring for someone with dementia.

Our Dementia Advisors also run Clinic sessions where they are regularly available for one-on-one advice or even just a listening ear.

There are also other groups that we run, talk to your Dementia Advisor to see if these are right for you.


See our schedule 'What's Coming Up - Nov & Dec 2022'  for dates, venues and times to help you plan. 

It's never too early to start thinking about Advance Care Planning. We plan for finances, and think about insuring property and contents, so why not do the same for your future health care?

Advance care planning helps you, the important people in your life and your health care team plan for your end-of-life care.

It helps you understand what the future might hold, and to say what health care you would or would not want. This makes it much easier for everyone to understand your wishes – especially if you can no longer speak for yourself.

An advance care plan is a way for people to think about, talk about and share what matters to them now in case they are unable to say it later.

Who would you like to speak for you if you can’t?

Sarah Togher is a Dementia Advisor here at Dementia Wellington. She talks about advance care planning and dementia as part of a new series of videos released by the Health Quality & Safety Commission.


You can watch all four videos at: https://bit.ly/3y3CiYG

To find out more and to begin your Advance Care Plan, go to www.myacp.org.nz

Come along to a Navigating Dementia information session!

These ninety-minute information sessions are open to anyone keen to find out more about what dementia is, what to do if you’re concerned about changes in memory or thinking, ideas for living well with dementia, and the support and resources available. 

The seminar covers:

  • Assessment and diagnosis of cognitive impairment,
  • What is and what isn’t dementia,
  • How to maximise brain health and function,
  • Plus the supports and services available for people living with dementia.

Upcoming dates and venues for Navigating Dementia information sessions are:



Upper Hutt

7.00pm - 8.30pm, Thursday 17 November 2022

Summerset Retirement Village, 20 Racecourse Road, Upper Hutt, 5018

Contact Dementia ​Advisor Sarah Togher, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 020 4025 2329



This information session is free although a koha is most appreciated.