Is supported living a good fit for dementia?


“ Today there are an estimated 413,000 Australians living with dementia, 55% of whom are female. The prevalence is projected to leap to 536,000 by 2025 and to an incredible 1.1 million by 2056”  Economic Cost of Dementia In Australia

If you or a loved one are suffering from dementia, it is vital to remember you are not alone. It can be confusing, frustrating and sometimes resentment causing. For many dementia sufferers and their carers, the disease has few precise answers and you find yourself fumbling around a sea of theories, differing treatment regimes and ultimately, a waiting game. This game however, is no fun at all.

Our community continues to age with a high proportion of our population entering a post 70 age group. Statisticians have long been predicting major challenges associated with this shift and we are starting to see the effects. 1.1million dementia patients by 2056? That is a major care requirement and has massive impacts on extended families.

A recent article called The Impact of Dementia is well worth a read. It explains the enormous cost this care will necessitate.

If you have a family member recently diagnosed with dementia, you are probably thinking about what living arrangements are appropriate and safe for a person with this disease.

In its early stages, the symptoms do not impact the lifestyle of a dementia sufferer too severely. Generally they can operate as before, but you will notice some forgetfulness and slight changes to vocabulary or speech patterns. Dementia patients are quite adept at ‘covering’ up the loss of memory initially. However as the disease progresses, daily mental function changes and it becomes more of a concern to leave a loved one alone for lengthy periods. Their safety becomes compromised – even if they themselves insist they are doing just fine!

Supported Living environments are perfect for seniors who wish to remain independent but can obtain support as their needs change. It is an ideal environment for someone who does not yet need a high care nursing environment, but would like the option of having some assistance as capabilities change. If you find cooking becomes impossible to co-ordinate, we provide a meal service. If you find cleaning to be inconsistent, we offer a cleaning service. If you require help with medication administering, our nurses will do this too. However aside from the activities a dementia sufferer is no longer capable of performing, they can live their lives just as before with as much or as little interaction, activity and independence as they enjoy.

It is so important though, to remember this. The earlier you make the transition to a supported living environment during the course of a dementia patient’s disease, the better it is for them. It gives them time to settle while their mental faculties are able to process change to some degree. The longer you leave the move, the more difficult it becomes. Not impossible – just more challenging for both the senior and their loved ones.

Once a person is in the final stages of dementia, their care requirements become quite specific and it necessitates a high care environment. Continence issues, wandering, dangerous confusion regarding appliances etc mean the individual is no longer able to live independently and needs constant care and supervision. For this level of care, a traditional nursing home or dementia unit is the best environment.

If you are unsure if a supported living environment is suitable, please feel free to call us for a chat. We’re happy to help!

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