YouQuest Young Onset Dementia Modified Service Support
Over 1,400 people (between 40-64 years of age) are living with young-onset dementia in the Calgary area (Alberta Health, 2018). YouQuest provides wellness services based on a therapeutic recreation model that is relevant to this specific age demographic of individuals who are diagnosed with a form of dementia. A systemic issue is that adult day programs tend to provide a “one size fits all” approach to support. This age demographic typically needs a lot more physical activity, connection with community and independence of decision making.
YouQuest is actively pursuing the implementation of a Modified Service Day. Unfortunately, this is a disease that progresses and each participant and care partners face a moment when a decision needs to be made about discontinuing full day service. This Modified Service Day Project will allow YouQuest to extend the current service delivery model in such a way that it will have a significant impact on the mental health and well-being of individuals living with young-onset dementia.
We are asking for support to one specific aspect of the Modified Service Day Project – Nutrition and Transportation.
There is something impactful about connecting with others while sitting down to enjoy a meal together. Enjoying meals together in a local restaurant or pub not only significantly reduces isolation, but it provides opportunity for participants to reconnect with others, and to connect with the community around them in a normalized environment.
Transportation includes providing transportation for the participant to and from the meeting place each week, but also to provide the opportunity for participants to enjoy attractions and venues in Calgary. Transportation is critical to participants who often lose the ability to drive or independently manage their own transportation. Without freedom of transportation, a sense of isolation sets in very quickly. Mobility is key to the success of the modified service day.
Who Will it Benefit?
This project will benefit three groups.
a) People living with a form of young-onset dementia - With progressing symptoms of this disease, often individuals with dementia require long term care - typically in the form of institutionalization. These settings are more geared toward significantly older people with offering programs that are designed for the older demographic. The result for younger individuals is a feeling of isolation and disconnectedness. Remaining connected with a community service that is age appropriate, even on a modified basis, is important to this age demographic for their personal sense of dignity, well-being and mental and emotional health.
b) Care Partners - YouQuest has been very focused on ensuring that the unpaid care partner experiences respite while their loved one is participating in the service day. As their loved one progresses with symptoms related to their disease, care partners are often faced with providing additional support with limited resources. This project will allow for these care partners to continue to receive valued respite where they know their loved one is in a safe and engaging environment.
c) Local restaurateurs and vendors - This project is focused on nutrition and transportation. Local businesses will benefit through visits and bookings from this group. Not only will the funds be focused on local businesses, but they will also benefit by connecting with and learning about dementia and the impact of dementia on a younger demographic of people. Ideally learning about stigmas associated with the disease, these businesses will be able to learn how to support people living with dementia within their business models. For example, a restaurant may learn to set up a specific menu with more limited choices and created using photos instead of text. In doing so, individuals with dementia will not be overwhelmed by information and it will permit dignity of choice and independence by allowing the individual to self-select a meal.