Caring For Dementia Patients

Dementia is a crippling disease that is currently estimated to affect around 320 000 Australians. Characterized by progressive memory loss, confusion and behavioral changes, sufferers of the disease in its later stages suffer reduced mobility, incontinence, speech problems and difficulties in eating. It is predominantly a disease of the elderly, although some sufferers may be diagnosed as early as their mid-40s. Sadly dementia has no known cure and is a progressive illness, meaning that people will never get better. Particularly in the later stages of dementia, sufferers may fail to recognize their friends and family, become uncharacteristically aggressive and require a significant amount of specialist care

What To Expect

Care for people in the initial stages of the disease is often provided by spouses, friends, and family. Unfortunately, as the disease develops it may become increasingly difficult for people with dementia to manage independently. The personality changes which many experiences due to the disease means that they may resist attempts to help them, become verbally abusive and even violent. As sufferers are usually in the older age group, they often have additional illnesses which, coupled with dementia, result in them requiring an enormous amount of care. Relatives are frequently older people themselves and are simply unable to meet the significant demands which dementia sufferers place on those around them. In such circumstances, a specialist care home offers a superb opportunity for a person with dementia to receive the top quality, continuing care which they need.

The Effects Of The Cut

Unfortunately, the cost of running specialist care provision for dementia sufferers can be high. The challenges of caring for people who have significant physical care needs in addition to severe mental impairment require highly trained staff that have the skills and experience to provide the very best possible assistance. As research on best practice when working with dementia sufferers is constantly being updated, ensuring staff receives regular training in new methods is imperative to offer a continuously high level of care. Sadly, the Federal Government’s decision to cut dementia and severe behaviors supplement will have a particularly negative effect on what care is offered to dementia sufferers. Many care homes used the funding provided by the supplement to ensure staff received specialist training, or to pay for additional services such as reminiscence therapy for their clients. Because care homes run on a tight budget, it is unlikely that this provision can be funded from elsewhere, so almost inevitably dementia sufferers will not be able to access the same high level of care which they enjoyed whilst the supplement was available. As care places for dementia sufferers, particularly in the latter stages of the disease, are difficult to obtain, it is worrying that vital funding to support care homes in providing appropriate care for this vulnerable group has been withdrawn.

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Care At Home

Despite the problem of the supplement’s withdrawal, care homes are frequently the best place for dementia sufferers to live. Not only can the expertly trained and compassionate staff cope with the high level of needs that many sufferers present, but care homes also have the right equipment and fittings to effectively care for people at all stages of the disease. In addition, specialist resources can be made available at a care home in a way that just wouldn’t be sustainable in a domestic setting. This results in dementia patients being given the very best opportunities to enjoy a good quality of life, no matter how severe their care needs may be. For many Australian dementia sufferers, a care home setting is the best solution to ensuring their needs can be effectively met in a caring manner.

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