Innovative Adult-Day Programs Giving a Voice to Individuals with Early Onset Dementia

Kitchener, November 21, 2014 - There has been an overwhelming response to two innovative programs introduced in Waterloo Wellington for people living with early onset dementia according to program managers.

Launched on October 1, 2014, the Young Onset Dementia Association (YODA) program which is operated by Seniors’ Services, Region of Waterloo at  the Sunnyside campus in Kitchener and Wednesday Night Joe’s which opened on July 1, 2014  at St. Joseph Health Centre Guelph  are both serving the needs of persons living with dementia under the age of 65 years.

Both programs offer physical, intellectual and social stimulation to adults with early onset dementia.

“There has been a significant gap in our community with regards to providing services for individuals with early onset dementia. The response to our program is very encouraging.  And we know that there is even more stigma when you are a younger person living with dementia as people don’t see it as a young person’s disease,” says Julie Wheeler, Manager, Community Programs, Sunnyside Seniors’ Services.

Matilda Kress, Acting Director of Outreach Services, St Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph echoes the same sentiments: “We are the only two programs in Ontario providing one-day programs for younger people living with dementia. These programs offer control and opportunities to individuals who can still contribute to their community.”   

YODA and Wednesday Night Joe’s were both named and designed by program participants so as to reflect their individual interests and needs.

A family member whose husband participates in the YODA program says: “This has been such a great program to get Gary out of the house and involved in something in our community. It also gives me a break. As the weeks progress, Gary and the other participants seem to be getting more and more comfortable in the group as they get to know each other. They go on so many fun and interesting outings, but they have also grown to support one another and that is so important.”

With regards to staff, the family member noted that: “The staff are tremendous and make the participants feel so good. I can’t say enough good things about this group. I’m so happy that YODA has been established; it’s great and I hope it continues.”

John Frauts, a participant of the Wednesday Night Joe’s had similar comments: “It is a great group of guys, we laugh and always have good conversations. It is a select group that has started small but we want it to grow. We want people to know about it.”

Despite the overwhelming success of the programs, Julie points some challenges: “The biggest concern is how YODA participants transition to other programs in the system? Therefore, we will need to have conversations on how to resolve challenges including the need for a permanent space.”

YODA is part of the Community Alzheimer Program (CAP) which offers a variety of programs and services to meet the needs of persons living with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia in Waterloo Wellington. The CAP is operated by the Region of Waterloo and funded by the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN).

Wednesday Night Joe’s is part of the Outreach Services of St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Guelph which offers a variety of programs and services to meet the needs of persons living with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia in Wellington. 

The Outreach Services are funded by the WWLHIN.

For more information contact:

Julie Wheeler
Manager, Community Programs, Sunnyside Seniors’ Services
Telephone: 519 575 4400 Extension 6370

Matilda Kress
Acting Director of Outreach Services, St Joseph’s Health Centre
Telephone: 519-824-6000 Extension 4209