Dementia Directions

There could be several explanations offered by diseases and conditions with symptoms similar to dementia, some of which are treatable and reversible so it is important to act without delay. Dementia symptoms should not be mistakenly dismissed as normal signs of ageing, it is important to see your GP.

The average delay between family members and close friends observing dementia symptoms and obtaining a diagnosis is over three years.

An early and accurate diagnosis is the beginning of getting the support needed.

For people experiencing the symptoms of dementia, being diagnosed at an earlier stage gives them a chance to adjust and get access to:

  • Support. There is no cure for the diseases causing dementia yet, but there is lots of support that can help people live as well as possible. As well as helping people plan for the future (such as setting up power of attorney) and access therapies and support groups, diagnosis may also mean that people get access to medicines that can help manage symptoms.
  • Information that will help people understand what you’re going through. Dementia can cause changes in your mood and behaviour. If you have been feeling low, getting irritated easily, or acting differently, a diagnosis can help people understand what you have been dealing with. They may be better able to support you.
  • Time. Many people say that receiving an early diagnosis gives them time to develop coping strategies and to rearrange their lifestyles to spend more quality time with loved ones.

It can be a daunting time when changes occur and just as difficult to know where to turn or what to expect. The stigma around the word dementia can cause fear, sadness and anxiety so it is perfectly understandable to deny symptoms or try to dismiss changes as part of the normal ageing process.

Dementia can cause the person with symptoms to be unaware of changes, sometimes this can lead to an angry or dismissive response to well-intended discussions regarding changes or the suggestion to get medical help.

It is also not uncommon for the visit to the doctor not to go quite as planned if the person with symptoms is unable to recall or communicate the purpose of their appointment; sometimes the complete opposite can occur when the person with changes can appear to have no symptoms at the time of the appointment with the GP.

Our advisors are here to help. We can connect you with a range of support services including specific dementia supports for the person living with dementia and also supports for carers.

Living well with dementia doesn’t overlook the very real impacts of the condition; Living well with dementia means finding ways to promote wellbeing and quality of life for everyone affected.

We can provide advice and up-to-date information to help with understanding dementia and what might happen in the future, practical ideas and advice for everyday challenges, modifying your home and routine to make life easier, coping with changes to life and relationships and how to stay healthy and active while dealing with the changes of dementia.

It is essential to recognise that your role as a carer can be exhausting and it is important to take care of your health not only for yourself but for the person you provide care for.

There are a range of formal and informal supports available to help you stay well, take time to recuperate or give you some time for yourself. We can connect you to dementia carer support groups, counselling and education, respite services and provide tips to help you manage your wellbeing.

Respite is a formally arranged temporary care period when another person takes care of the person you provide care to. This can be for short regular periods or for days or weeks, in your home, in a residential facility or in a community setting.

We are here to help you access this support and put arrangements in place that can give you the time to catch up with friends or just take a break for a while.

Making that first contact with the government aged care system, My Aged Care, is essential to entering the system at the right level, being assessed by the right team and getting approvals for the full range of programs available.

Our Dementia Specialist Navigation Service removes the worry and stress because we do all of this for you and then we continue to support you until your approvals occur. We can help with:

  • Advising you about My Aged Care, what to expect, arrange an assessment and can be with you for the assessment.
  • Gathering the background information to give the assessors the right information to help get the help at home required.
  • After you have received a letter advising your approval for a Home Care Package and when it can start we can help you find a provider that best suits your needs.

A home care package and the Commonwealth Home Support Program are types of government funding that provide support to older people with complex needs to help them stay at home. Funds are allocated based on the assessment of the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) or a Regional Assessment Service (RAS). Approved aged care providers work with care recipients to plan, organise and deliver home support services.

Access to respite services and entry to permanent residential aged care are also assessed through this process, when these services are approved, the identifying code will be required by your chosen respite or aged care home.

We will help you through the system and get the services you need. You may be eligible for increased funding through the dementia and cognition supplement in addition to home care package funding.

No, people with cognitive impairment associated with conditions other than dementia may also be found eligible for the supplement. You do need to be a recipient of a home care package, the dementia and cognition supplement is additional funding to a home care package for people living with moderate to severe dementia or cognitive impairment. Eligibility is assessed through a screening tool that is carried out by a trained medical professional such as a registered nurse, clinical psychologist or general practitioner.

We are here to be your voice and ensure your choices for the way you wish to live are heard. As your advocate, we work with you and assist where memory and or cognitive changes may otherwise limit the ability to communicate your wishes and access services for your wellbeing. We do not offer opinions or medical advice and we are not lawyers, we will work closely with you to give you a voice and follow up on your behalf.

Our advocate can accompany you to medical appointments where we can support you as little or as much as you would like. We are able to document what has been discussed and help to communicate your opinions. If you are having difficulties understanding, we are able to work through the information with you and inform other family members of the appointment’s discussion.

We can support the person you provide care to by attending these appointments with them. We can discuss the issues with you prior and report to you afterwards with what has taken place and any further actions required so that you have all of the information to review. If you prefer, we can attend to any follow-up arrangements.

We can support you to carry out the trusted position as a Guardian for the person with impaired decision making by attending SACAT hearings on your behalf. As advocates, we are also able to act as instructed in any matter related to the person’s health, lifestyle, or accommodation under the instruction of the person’s Guardian.

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