In the early 1990s Karen’s beloved mother, Joyce, was diagnosed with Dementia. The journey would last 21 years and Karen was by her side throughout. This life changing experience for Karen would be the birth place of DementiaSA.
By the early 2000s when more hands-on care was needed for Joyce , Karen began to see the large discrepancy in the South African healthcare system for those with means and those without when caring for a loved one living with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.
It devasted Karen to see the dislocation that families suffered when loved ones were living with dementia. Knowing first-hand the costs – financial, personal and phycological – on the carer, Karen felt called to be more active in dementia advocacy and patient-centred care.
Although Karen herself was not a medical practitioner she became a lay expert in all matters dementia and old age care.
Karen volunteered at Alzheimer’s South Africa before founding DementiaSA in 2006. It was a natural progression as people and professionals would come to her for advice and knowledge. Her lived experience of caring for someone for 21 years gave her the qualities that other families looked for when seeking guidance and assurance.
Karen’s holistic and scientific approach to dementia care has placed her at the forefront of the international landscape in the disease of dementia, with relationships with academic institutes as well as care organisations.
Karen leads DementiaSA with a hands-on, personal approach to all aspects of the work. She guides and facilitates the work of our social workers as well as personally overseeing all projects. From 2020, Karen has personally lead the DementiaSA virtual support groups , continuing to give of herself to those in need. She chairs our webinars and leverages her extensive personal contacts to keep our virtual forums vibrant and informative.