Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe disorders of the brain that affect an individual’s thinking, behaviour and personality.
The type of dementia depends on the part of the brain affected. The illness is progressive with no cure and eventually results in an inability to function without care.
It is estimated that 413,000 Australian’s are living with dementia today – three quarters of which is caused by Alzheimer's Disease.
“Dementia is not a normal part of ageing but occurs irrespective of intellect, education or gender,” dementia educator Janet Sykes, from Anglican Care, said.
”We often liken the brain to a city of lights, where the lights are memories, abilities and relationships, and with dementia, those lights go out.
“There’s no determining when, but at Anglican Care, our duty of care is to recognise what lights are shining along the journey and help them shine as long as they can.”
Diagnosis is an important first step and helps carers and loved ones understand changes in behaviour, and the ramifications.
”Once diagnosed, we like to get families together to educate them on the likely journey ahead, and the services and community support groups that exist,” Janet said.
“Maintaining social and self-care skills while promoting an individual sense of well being is critical to Anglican Care’s approach to dementia care.
“Staff seek to enable, not disable, using a strength-based approach within a home-like and secure environment. Choice engenders a sense of control which in turn promotes well-being.”
Due to the progressive nature of the disease, Anglican Care offers a range of dementia care services, from in-home care, to community day respite support to full-time residential living.
“A person with dementia will eventually be unable to fulfill daily living activities and may forget who they are and their relationships with others,” Janet said. “The key is we don’t forget who they are.
“We aim to respect their person-hood through the journey and their right to dignity, particularly when they are no longer the person they once were.”
Intrinsic to this approach is getting to know each individual, their interests, and what they would like to happen into the future when perhaps they will not be the person they once were.
“Anglican Care employs dedicated lifestyle and well-being specialists who develop the life history on all clients so we can determine individual preferences and things that are important to them,” Janet said. “This helps with refining activities into the future for the client and also informs new staff.
“It is important for loved ones and family to know Anglican Care staff know their clients along the journey.
“Once a circle of support is established with family, friends, doctors and therapists, it’s easier to plan for the future.”
Anglican Care is innovative in it’s approach to dementia care, offering a lifestyle resource van, very much like a mobile library, full of information and activities that can come to clients both in the community and in residential care.
“It contains therapeutic games, hobbies, things of interest, books with large print, info for carers, iPads, X-boxes and craft items,” Janet said. “We’re always trying to think outside the square and find technology like Skype can be very beneficial.”
Dementia can be physically and emotionally draining for carers. Anglican Care offers a range of respite options.
“People can get relief on home-care packages enabling carers to pop out for a few hours,” Janet said.
“Our Community centres offer day respite, there are transition respite options which offer breaks for a couple of weeks and then there is full-time residential care which can be challenging for the carer too.
“There’s also regular support groups, where you can learn more about dementia and talk to other people in similar situations.”
Anglican Care is enhancing its customer service team to ensure it becomes a seamless one point of contact on the dementia journey for those in need.
Let them assist you to navigate the aged care system and find out about the services that best suit your requirements.
For more information visit www.anglicancare.com.au or ring 1800 733 553.