Are you looking into dementia programs in nursing homes for a loved one? Let’s take a closer look at the benefits, and what to look out for when seeking support.

Dementia affects almost 400,000 people in Australia, with each person experiencing dementia in a unique way. For many people, their dementia journey can make daily activities more challenging. If living at home is no longer safe or comfortable, a move into residential aged care can provide genuine peace of mind and extra support. So where do you begin finding the right level of dementia-specific care? Read on for some key tips and useful contact information. 

Firstly, what is dementia?

It’s important to understand exactly what dementia is in order to know what great dementia-specific care can entail. Dementia is a group of symptoms, characterised by an impairment of cognitive function that goes beyond the usual effects of ageing. 

There are many different forms of dementia, the most common being Alzheimer’s disease which is believed to account for 60-70% of cases. Other common forms include vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia. In Australia, nearly two-thirds of people with dementia are women.

Possible dementia symptoms

Every person’s experience with dementia will be different, as there’s such a wide range of possible symptoms and forms. This variation is precisely why tailored, high-quality care can be so important.

Generally speaking, dementia can affect memory, mood, thinking and behaviour in a way that affects a person’s normal way of life. In some cases there could be changes in reasoning, sleep issues or even hallucinations. There can be physical effects such as tremors, slow movement or rigidity. Many cases of dementia can be progressive or chronic in nature, so symptoms may change or develop over time. 

Does dementia have a cause? 

While there is no one known cause of dementia, there are various factors known to affect the chances of developing dementia or accelerate the progression of dementia symptoms. Age, genetics and family history can all play a part, as can things like physical injury, stroke and lifestyle factors.

What are the effects of dementia?

Dementia can affect a person as well as their loved ones in psychological, physical and social ways. The person with dementia may experience a loss of motivation or memory, of mood changes, or changes in emotional control. What was once an everyday activity might become difficult or confusing, and relationships may be affected. 

Dementia can be a journey full of ups and downs, but having access to the right care and support can make all the difference. This might be through family members, friends, and possibly through aged care.

How aged care can help your loved ones with dementia

Around one in three people with dementia in Australia live in care accommodation. There can be many benefits of aged care for people with dementia. The right residential aged care can offer a safe environment, highly trained carers and an in-depth understanding of all that dementia can encompass. Lots of people find that a move into a dementia-equipped aged care home provides greater independence and reassurance, both for the person with dementia as well as their loved ones.

There can be various reasons to consider a move into an aged care home, such as: 

  • A need for more skilled care or a safer environment, such as for mobility issues, or if the person living with dementia is wandering from home
  • Challenging behaviour regarding the person living with dementia, such as aggression or behavioural concerns
  • Changes in health or wellbeing, either for the person living with dementia or someone who is caring for them.

Making this choice can be tough – there could be complex feelings of guilt or relief, happiness or loss tied up in the decision – but it can be a helpful step for all. You can ease the transition of moving into residential aged care by choosing a provider that’s ideally equipped for great dementia care.

Choosing an aged care home for someone with dementia

We know choosing an aged care provider can be daunting at the best of times, but there are some characteristics you can look for to find a quality provider of dementia-specific care. These factors can help maximise the benefits of an aged care home for people with dementia.

Qualified and highly trained staff

Dementia care can require unique skills and awareness, as dementia can present in such a wide variety of ways. Specific training and qualifications help to equip carers with the skills to best support people living with dementia. For example, we ensure our team members have received comprehensive dementia training around person-centred care, using clear communication, understanding how someone’s perspective may be changed, and creating supportive environments.

A safe and supportive place to call home

The right built environment can provide a sense of freedom and reassurance for residents living with dementia. A Memory Support Unit is ideally purpose-built to provide a protective and comforting place for people with memory loss or cognitive changes, as they can experience the world in very different ways. Even bright lighting should be thoughtfully integrated, in order to minimise harsh shadows that can sometimes cause distress or confusion for someone living with dementia. 

Dementia-specific programs and support

We are proactive and progressive with our dementia care program, incorporating art, music and pet therapy. We even have Paro the robotic seal pup – who might sound a little different at first, but offers a wonderful chance for those living with advanced dementia to safely interact with a cute, fluffy animal that is able to respond to them individually and provide a calming and interactive experience. 

Access to medical and allied health professionals

The medical, healthcare and wellbeing needs of someone living with dementia can be complex, and it can be important to have access to all of the medical and allied health professionals that may be required. At Aurrum aged care homes, this includes 24-hour nursing care and access to visiting specialists in geriatric medicine. Our dementia care is supported by individually tailored care plans, expert clinical care and round the clock support. Our residents can make the most of in-house massage options, as well as access to a comprehensive allied health program including podiatrists, physiotherapists, dietitians, occupational therapists and speech pathologists. 

A sense of identity and belonging 

We can all benefit from feeling included and respected, and the same of course applies for a person living with dementia. We provide varied aged care lifestyle programs to help residents keep physically, mentally and socially active, along with nutritious dining that tastes great and can be tailored to each person’s tastes and requirements. It’s our tailored care plan and person-centred care that ensures that every resident is included and respected for their identity, personality and life experiences. 

Finding dementia-specific aged care support

If you or someone you’re caring for has dementia and is over 65 years or older (50 years or older if you identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person), then you may be eligible for government-subsidised aged care. My Aged Care can be an ideal place to begin when accessing aged care options for dementia, as you can arrange for an aged care assessment. 

You can also contact the following numbers for general information: 

Choosing an aged care home that suits you

Choosing the right dementia-specific aged care home will be a very personal choice, and this choice will depend on the quality of dementia programs in nursing homes that you visit and consider. It can help to take notes as you go, check for the qualities above and follow your intuition in finding the right fit.

Aurrum Aged Care offers specialised dementia care and Memory Support Units at several of our aged care locations in Victoria and NSW, including Erina, Healesville and Reservoir. We are always available for a pressure-free, friendly discussion about finding the right care for your needs. You can also contact the Aurrum team on 1800 287 786 to arrange a personalised tour.