Dementia: The Australian Experience
If you care about an elderly parent or relative, it is reasonable to be fearful of a Dementia diagnosis in the future. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2012) “Dementia in Australia” report there are more than 353,800 Australians living with dementia. Of concern are the more than 1,800 new cases of dementia in Australia each week.
Dementia is a broad term which describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Dementia may affect thinking, communication, memory, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Research indicates that on average symptoms of dementia are noticed by families three years before a firm diagnosis is made.
So what signs or symptoms should you watch out for?
PLANNING - inability to organise tasks. Example: Making a shopping list.
SEQUENCING - difficulty doing things in a particular order. Example: Making a cup of tea or getting dressed.
KNOWLEDGE - being unable to recall and apply stored knowledge. Example: How to count money.
EMOTIONS - appearing to be less interested and connected, or more anxious.
INSIGHT - being honestly unaware of their own behaviour and its consequences, despite clear evidence to the contrary.
Although the risk of Dementia increases with age, it is not a part of the normal ageing process. It is more common at 65 years and over. Of Australians 85 years and older, 3 in 10 have dementia. Of course every person with dementia is unique and the symptoms and progression of dementia may present differently in different people. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.
Dementia is a disease process that is progressive and irreversible. There is no cure for most causes or forms of dementia; however, medications and some alternative treatments have been found to relieve certain symptoms for some people.
If a loved one has been diagnosed, there is support available for the person with dementia, their families and friends. Alzheimer’s Australia manages a wide range of innovative national programs to deliver services such as provision of practical information, support, advocacy, counselling, training and education to people with dementia, their families and carers.
Visit: fightdementia.org.au or call the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500.
If a loved one is transitioning to Aged Care, Seabrae Manor Aged Care Living offers dementia specific services. Our highly qualified and experienced care team will tailor a Care Plan to suit their individual needs to ensure they achieve and maintain optimum levels of physical, social and emotional health in a secure environment. For more information contact us