Lifting the burden for those living with dementia

Helping lift the burden for people living with dementia and those who care for them is the focus of an awareness campaign across Australia this week.

With the theme “A little support makes a lot of difference”, Dementia Action Week starts today, World Alzheimer’s Day.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, said both initiatives provide an opportunity to help those grappling with the difficult health diagnosis.

Around Australia more than 447,000 people live with dementia.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form.

“It is very confronting, not just for the individual, but for their family and friends,” Minister Colbeck said.

He said the correct support could make all the difference – particularly as COVID-19 continues to present challenges for aged care facilities across Australia.

“Dementia already affects nearly half a million Australians and the number is rising rapidly,” Minister Colbeck said.

“For Australia, and similar countries around the world, it represents a huge health challenge.

“While dementia is a progressive condition, people can continue to live active and happy lives for many years after diagnosis.

“They deserve support not just from their families but from the community as a whole, to allow them to live their best lives as long as possible.”

By following appropriate infection control protocols, it is important aged care providers continue to allow visitation for dementia patients and their families during the pandemic, Minister Colbeck said.

He urged all providers to consider the industry-agreed Aged Care Visitor Access Code which ensures the response to the pandemic was proportionate and in the best interests of the residents.

Dementia Action Week is organised by Dementia Australia, which receives Government funding of $38 million over three years from 2019 to 2022 to deliver the National Dementia Support Program.

As well as improving awareness and understanding, the program connects people living with dementia with services that support them to self-manage and live well for as long as possible.

Dementia Australia launched an ongoing campaign to reduce discrimination against people with dementia in May 2020.

It aims to increase dementia awareness and understanding, across the public, consumers, and healthcare professionals.

It is also delivering the Government’s $3.7 million Dementia Friendly Communities program.

Additionally, the Specialist Dementia Care Program funds specialist dementia care units in residential aged care homes.

The units provide specialised care to people with very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia and aim to reduce or stabilise symptoms so that people can move into less intensive care settings.

Minister Colbeck said a further investment of $185 million in the Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission was also providing much needed support.

“This vital investment continues to drive support for our researchers as they look for more effective treatments, as well as ways to prevent Alzheimer’s and improve brain health,” Minister Colbeck said.

Dementia Action Week continues until Sunday, 27 September.

More information can be found here.

The Aged Care Visitor Access Code can be found here.

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