As we head into the second half of Dementia Awareness Month, a Rotorua daughter discusses how it is an honour to be a care giver for her mother.

September is Dementia Awareness Magnolia Month and a number of events are being held in Rotorua throughout the month to highlight awareness.

Hinemarie Taiaroa (Mardi) cares for her 84-year-old mother, Kataraina Dovey Taiaroa (known as Dovey Taiaroa), who has dementia.

When her mother retired, they both moved up to Rotorua from Wellington and live together here.

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Hinemarie says her mother worked as a school teacher and did not retire until she was 80 years old.

She says they came to Rotorua as her mother was born and raised in Rotorua, and wanted to be close to the marae at Whakarewarewa.

Hinemarie works full-time at the District Health Board as a personal assistant.

She says when they initially moved to Rotorua she did not know anything was wrong until later on in the year.

"I started noticing things were a bit different. Routine things weren't happening, forgetting days, time and repetitive questioning."

She says she started noticing this when her mother stopped work and slowed down.

She says they went to a doctor where a test was done.

"I realised things needed to change and things needed to be put in place to ensure she's cared for and that I'm well enough to care for her."

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She says when her mother first had the diagnosis her mother was in denial, "and so was I, I guess".

Hinemarie says it was a shock as her mother was always active and busy right up until she was 80.

Hinemarie says she realised she needed someone there for her mother while she is was at work and was able to access care giving for her mother.

She says her mother is still involved in marae-based activities, going to a kaumatua day run by their marae during the week. She also attends Daybreak, an elderly programme for senior citizens which has many activities.

As a person caring for someone with dementia, you have to do research yourself, she says.

"I'm always having to be aware of things and small changes can really affect that person.

"I'm always aware and for me everything is focused on mum and being her caregiver. She's a really strong person and it's quite an honour really."

Hinemarie says we all age and statistics show we are all living longer, and a diagnosis of dementia may happen to someone close to you, so awareness is important.

She says although dementia is a condition the person has no control over, they are still the same person.

She says going along to groups through Dementia Lakes has been helpful.

"There's a stigma attached to the word dementia so it was great to find a group of Maori and I can relate to what they are saying. It's helpful to know other people out there are going through the same thing."

Dementia Lakes manager and support co-ordinator Lynne Luke says the organisation supports about 200 people affected by dementia in the Rotorua region, which can occur in those aged under 65.

"We support about 200 clients but we know there are many more people out there who have dementia that are not engaging with our service.''

Dementia is a brain disease and the most common form is Alzheimers.

Almost 70,000 people are now living in New Zealand with dementia and by 2050 this number is predicted to be 170,000.

Dementia Lakes supports anyone living with dementia.

Some of the things Dementia Lakes holds are regular get-togethers for carers and clients, community talks about dementia, cognitive stimulation therapy, a living-with-memory-loss education course for those caring for someone with dementia, regular hui at Tipu Ora and other support groups.

There is an End of Life Seminar on October 16 at the Sudima Hotel. For more information on Dementia Lakes or to register interest in the seminar call (07) 349 0053.

Dementia Lakes address - 1460A Hinemoa St.

Dementia Awareness Magnolia Month in Rotorua
- Dementia Awareness Bike Ride, September 28, 10 am, Lakefront boardwalk, guided ride around the urban CyWay, scooters, mobility scooters and bikes all welcome
- Poetry reading by Michelle Mills, September 24 and 26, 12pm, Rotorua Library
- Talk at St Barnabus Hall on School Rd, Ngongotaha. October 8, 1.30pm. No charge, afternoon tea provided