Study: social clubs could empower individuals with early-onset dementia

According to a new UBC study, community-based social groups could play a major role in helping people with early-onset dementia.

UBC nursing professor, Alison Phinney, led the study which focuses on an independently run program known as Paul’s Club. The club offers social and recreational activities three days per week, members are from their mid-40s to late 60s.

“Of the estimated 1.4 million Canadians living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia by 2031, a few thousand in every major city will be diagnosed before age 65,” said Phinney.

According to her research she believes day program’s like Paul’s Club could help patients continue to live at home for as long as possible. This club was founded by retired nurse, Rita levy and her husband, Michael, in 2012.

The club members meet at a hotel with a friendly ambience without medical or hospital associations.

The club runs from 10 am to 4pm to give members’ families a break from caring for their loved ones.

The day starts with coffee, mostly followed by chair yoga, dance or other light workout before the group goes for lunch and a walk in the neighbourhood. And finally the day ends with an ice cream at a local gelato shop.

“Young-onset dementia is incredibly challenging because they’re still fairly active and healthy and suddenly they’re no longer able to work,” said Phinney.

The research is funded by the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.  The next stage of the study will examine a more conventional adult day program for the elderly, including some with dementia.