Almost half a million people live with dementia in Australia, and a third of them were born overseas.
Due to language barriers and lack of appropriate services, people with dementia from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds tend to access health care later than others, resulting in delayed diagnosis, higher risk of social isolation, and poor health outcomes.
The Dementia and Social Care for Diverse Communities Research Forum at Edith Cowan University (ECU) will bring together a range of experts from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to present the latest research addressing the needs of migrants living with dementia from CALD backgrounds.
Music supports wellbeing in older people
A highlight of the forum is a musical performance by Italian choir, La Seconda Gioventù with the InCasa community, led by ECU Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Simone Marino.
Dr Marino said the choir was more than just a musical group; it was a powerful tool for improving emotional wellbeing and quality of life for its members.
“Through the language of migrants’ meaningful music, the choir strengthens their sense of identity, fostering a deep connection to their cultural identity,” he said.
“It becomes a vital means to support wellbeing and combat social isolation, providing a supportive and inclusive environment where individuals can find companionship, purpose, and joy, while lessening care burden.”
‘BEFRIENDING with GENIE’
The theme of this year’s forum is aligned with a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded research project, ‘BEFRIENDING with GENIE’, led by ECU Chief Investigator Professor Loretta Baldassar.
Using an innovative social support program, the BEFRIENDING with GENIE study aims to reduce loneliness and increase social support and service access for people living with dementia and their caregivers from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
This study is among a variety of topics to be presented at the forum. Others include: Brain health knowledge translation for Aboriginal Elders, the role of technology and dementia prevention in CALD communities, the power of a volunteer visitors scheme, a dementia caregivers project, and research supporting the Chinese community.
Professor Baldassar said raising awareness about the diverse needs of people from diverse backgrounds living with dementia and their families was crucial.
“Dementia ranks among the top causes of death in Australia and is the leading cause of death for women,” she said.
“However, migrants living with dementia from CALD backgrounds are underrepresented in research.”
This forum provides an opportunity for scholars, researchers, industry partners, government agencies, policy makers, community, non-government agencies, teachers, and students from across Australia who work with and for older people to come together and share knowledge and experiences.
“I encourage anyone interested to register for the event and come along,” Professor Baldassar said.
The Dementia and Social Care for Diverse Communities Research Forum is on Thursday November 23 at ECU’s Mount Lawley Campus. For more information about the event and to register, visit the webpage.