Caring for Loved Ones with Dementia
Dementia used to be uncommon before the 20th century when fewer people lived into old age. Although today people are living much longer and the disease has become much more prevalent with more than 342,800 Australians currently living with the Dementia.
What is Dementia?
Dementia refers to a variety of neurological conditions resulting in the decline of brain function. Although it can happen to anyone, dementia usually occurs in individuals over the age of 65. Research has shown that it is a disease symptom - not a normal part of aging.
Currently, there are over 100 diseases that may cause dementia, with the most common including Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia, after heart disease, and there is no known cure at this stage.
You are Not Alone
Each week, more than 1,800 new cases of dementia are diagnosed in Australia. That means thousands of people are just beginning to learn about the disease and how they can care for their loved ones who have been diagnosed. Caring for someone with Dementia can be challenging both physically and emotionally because you will want to do everything you can to support and reassure the person you care for. But it can become a heavy load to carry all on your own.
Alzheimer’s Australia estimated that 1.2 million people are currently caring for someone with the Dementia. If you are caring for a loved one living with the disease, you are part of a larger community going through similar situations, and there are many resources available to help you.
What Resources are Available?
Australia has a wide variety of services and programs to assist carers and people living with dementia. An option many people consider is respite care. Respite care provides a break from the responsibilities and demands of caring for someone with dementia, which enables families and carers to have a rest before they burn out.
The Government funds many different types of respite to help families and carers such as Alzheimer's Australia and Age Care Australia which offer information, support, education and counselling. Other resources you may find useful include:
Although there is no cure for Dementia just yet, it doesn’t mean that research hasn’t been exhausted looking for it. Over the next five years the Federal Government is providing 200 million dollars into Dementia research - boosting funds to bring dementia research funding into line with other chronic diseases. The Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation is proactively funding scholarships for new and early career researchers and postdoctoral fellowships in 2016.