In 1984, an American woman who specialised in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias visited New Zealand and a public meeting was held in downtown Auckland. She gave a talk on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and stressed the point that more support was required for carers and people with dementia. She put out a challenge for Auckland to set up a society that provided information, support and education for carers and people with dementia.
At that meeting, people were invited to form a steering group with a view to setting up an Auckland Alzheimers and Related Disorders Society. Chris St Johansen facilitated this steering group and in time the Alzheimers and Related Disorders Society (ADARDS) Auckland was incorporated (later to become Alzheimers Auckland Incorprorated).
Pat Hunter was the appointed as the first President, Cynthia Henderson as Secretary and Bert Walls as Treasurer.
The late 80s saw many changes, which shaped the society. Major figures included Jim Gladwin (past President) Cynthia Henderson, Mabel Smith, Heather Rogers, Beryl Longshaw, Jean O’Reilly, Wynn Colgan, Irene Hayes, Hillary Birch, Edgar Henson, Bert Walls, Joy Simpson, Pat Durey and Keith Knowles.
During this period, two members - Vera Thayne and Val Russell of the South Auckland Alzheimers Support Group, who were also on the ADARDS Auckland committee - identified the need for a local Alzheimers Society to provide support for people with dementia, their Carers and families in the South Auckland area. A steering committee was formed and in 1989, Alzheimers and Related Disorders South Auckland (later to become Alzheimers Counties Manukau Incorporated) became incorporated.
In 2006, The Honorary Life Membership Awards (awarded by Sir Richard Faull) recognised Bert Walls, Rod Densem, Myllys Hartley, Beryl Longshaw and Bob Ephraim.
In 2009/2010 members of the board and management team from Alzheimers Auckland and Alzheimers Counties Manukau met to discuss a possible merger as a way of streamlining infrastructure and administration for greater efficiency and consistency of service delivery in the greater Auckland region. So in 2011, Alzheimers Auckland Incorporated and Alzheimers Counties Manukau merged to form Alzheimers Auckland Charitable Trust – and in November 2016, Alzheimers Auckland rebranded as Dementia Auckland.
This new name helps provide clarity to those who are discovering the organisation for the first time – it's for those with all varieties of dementia, not just Alzheimer's. It also reflects a new direction for the organisation as an independent entity that can carve its own path to meet the specific needs of people it has the privilege to work with.
Today, Dementia Auckland covers the greater Auckland region and continues to make life better for all those affected by dementia, through the provision of information, support and education.