Future of dementia care starts in the home, says Port Stephen director of nursing

Statistics sometimes just seem perfunctory and then sometimes they shock us. When it comes to dementia they should shock us

Meagan Harding RN MACN, director of nursing at Care for You at Home.

Meagan Harding RN MACN, director of nursing at Care for You at Home.

Within our lifetime dementia will overtake cardiovascular disease and cancer as the major threat to Australian quality of life.

In 2016 dementia became the leading cause of death among Australian females, surpassing heart disease which has been the leading cause of death for both males and females since the early 20th century.

In 2018, there is an estimated 425,416 Australians living with dementia. By 2020 there will be 75,000 Australian Baby Boomers living with dementia. Currently an estimated 250 people are diagnosed with dementia every day.

To compound this further, Australia is facing a shortage of nearly 60,000 paid workers by 2050 and this is going to be further impacted upon by a short fall of 94,000 unpaid (family) carers. 

In Port Stephens, according to the ABS, we have a population of 71,716 people with almost half of them over the age of 50 and 10,857 people over the age of 70.

In the entire Port Stephens LGA we have less than 1500 combined nursing home, hostel and self contained villa places. So, you can see very clearly that the majority of our aged care people are living in and being cared for in their own homes – and this is true of our dementia sufferers.

I have been caring for people with dementia in our community for 16 years who have and continue to live at home safe, well and independent with the right amount of formal and informal support services.

With the tsunami of dementia sufferers being diagnosed now and into the future in this country we just don’t have the capability of building facility after facility.

This is why we need to be aware that caring for people in their own homes and within the community is the way forward and will be the norm.

Tailored care packages can help dementia patients take control of their living conditions, enabling them to live comfortably and safely in an environment that is familiar to them.

Many people with dementia find it distressing and confusing to move out of their home environment, and connected healthcare can help them to remain in a familiar setting while still receiving the assistance they need to be safe.

  • Dementia Awareness Month runs throughout September