At just 57 years old, Amrita Francis’ world turned upside down, with an early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis that within five years would heavily affect her memory and ability to work.

Now at 62 years old, ex-music teacher Amrita still remembers how to play classical piano, and she still enjoys her family. Her husband Martin and son Sanesh still have and experience the Amrita they know and love, despite her challenges with dementia.

This September is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and Dementia New Zealand has launched its Still Me campaign in support of people like Amrita, and their families.

“Contrary to what many people think, dementia is not a normal part of ageing,” says Paul Sullivan, CEO of Dementia New Zealand. It affects people of all cultures, intellectual abilities and lifestyles, and while it is more common in people over the age of 65, it can also affect people as young as 35.

“Our Still Me campaign has been designed to help change the way we think, feel and talk about dementia. It is a reminder that we need to see the person not the condition and to recognise the brave person who is supporting them,” says Mr Sullivan.

Dementia New Zealand, together with its supporters and volunteers, is running a number of activities as part of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month during September.

People are encouraged to show their support by holding Still Me Get Together events to help raise awareness and funds, or by changing out their Facebook profile picture with the Still Me magnolia frame.

Dementia statistics:

  • More than 70,000 people are estimated to be living with dementia in New Zealand; 20,000 of those are living in Auckland
  • With4 out of 5 Kiwis affected by dementia in some way. It affects almost everyone.
  • The national figure is anticipated to triple by 2050, costing $4.5 billion
  • Dementia is one of the leading causes of death in older adults in the country
  • Five percent of people diagnosed with dementia are under 65 years old – this is referred to as either “early-onset” or “younger-onset” dementia
  • World Alzheimer’s Day is Saturday 21st September.

About Still Me Get Togethers:

The significance of a dementia diagnosis reaches beyond the individual affected.

  • Families, networks and communities have a role to play in ensuring that we provide a safe, supportive and dementia-friendly society.
  • By hosting a Still Me Get Together, people have the opportunity to unite with Dementia NZ and the 70,000 Kiwis affected to fight against this growing health challenge.
  • For more information and for those interested in hosting a Still Me Get Together, visit:

Where to go for help:

If you are concerned about yourself or somebody you know speak to your GP or call Dementia NZ on 0800 433 636.




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