Dementia is obviously a distressing condition for both the person with dementia and their family and friends. For the person with dementia, many aspects of life can become muddled. That’s why maintaining a large degree of familiarity for as long as possible is important. And nothing is as familiar as one’s own home.
Dementia care in your own home
Dementia is a distressing condition for both the person with dementia and their family and friends. For the person with dementia, many aspects of life can become muddled. That’s why maintaining a large degree of familiarity for as long as possible is important. And nothing is as familiar as one’s own home.
While the circumstances of every person with dementia are different, there are some situations that apply to a large number of people, particularly those still living alone. Obviously, some are minor, but others might have concerning consequences and need to be monitored. These include:
- Forgetting to eat meals, even those prepared in advance
- Forgetting to take prescribed medication
- Taking inaccurate amounts of medication
- Forgetting to regularly bathe or wash themselves
- Not dressing correctly for the day’s weather conditions
- Forgetting to regularly change clothes
- Forgetting appointments or having difficulty judging time
- Leaving the stove top or oven on
- Leaving water running in the bath or sink
- Letting strangers into the house without checking credentials properly
- Forgetting to care properly for pets.
How a carer can help
Aside from monitoring the common issues listed above and putting in place processes that minimise the chance of them occurring, there are several other things that a carer can do to assist someone with dementia who is living in their own home. These include:
- Write a list of emergency contact numbers and place them on a noticeboard or on the fridge
- Make the home as safe as possible. Check that all spaces are well lit, that there are no loose carpets or rugs, that all furniture is stable, and that there are no cords or leads running along walking spaces
- Prepare meals for them and put them in separate containers with instructions taped on top
- Make sure that the essential pantry and cooking ingredients are within easy reach and not in a high cupboard that may require a chair or step ladder to reach
- Fix handrails to the bath, shower and toilet, and place non-slip mats in the bath, shower and even on the floor around the bathroom sink
- Place easy-to-read clocks around the house. If the person requires an alarm at a particular time, set the alarm for them
- Set alarms and place notes around the house to remind them when to take medication
- Put correct doses of medication in separate containers so they take the right amount of medication each time
- Check that smoke detectors are in working order
- Check and regulate the hot water temperature
- Assist with financial decision-making, including helping to pay bills
- Tell neighbours, local shopkeepers, the local police station, and anyone else who you think should know, about the person’s condition
- Make sure they attend medical appointments. You may need to make appointments for them and assist in getting them there
- Do not over explain. Keep explanations and instructions as simple as possible
- In hot weather, prepare bottles of water and place them around the home
- Talk to them about their sleeping habits and quality of sleep – and get professional advice if the person is not getting adequate sleep
- Accompany them on regular physical exercise.
Government subsidies are available for Home Care Packages. The Australian Government’s Home Care Package Program helps people live independently in their own home for as long as they can.
There are four levels of Home Care Packages. Each level of Home Care Package provides a different subsidy amount. The amount is paid to an approved Home Care provider that the person requiring care (or their appointed representative) has selected. The subsidy contributes to the total cost of their service and care delivery. It is also expected that they will contribute to the cost of their care, through a basic daily fee, and in some cases, an income-tested care fee.
The four package levels are structured as follows:
* The maximum government contribution increases each year. The individual amount that will be paid to the provider will depend on whether you are asked to pay an income-tested care fee.
For more information about the Home Care Package Program, including eligibility criteria, visit My Aged Care or call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.
On top of a Home Care Package, there is additional funding in the form of a Dementia and Cognition Supplement. This recognises that caring for someone with dementia is complex and requires more support, so it provides an extra 10% on top of your Package.
For more information about the supplement and eligibility criteria visit the Department of Health website for a detailed guide.
Finding a Home Care provider who specialises in dementia care
If you want to talk about Home Care options, contact CareAbout for more information, for answers to your questions, and to put you in touch with a Home Care provider who specialises in dementia care.
CareAbout can help you locate and importantly choose the Home Care services and packages that are right for you. There are many options for Aged Care services that let you comfortably stay in your own home and get the support and assistance you need.