There are currently over 400,000 Australians living with dementia and almost 1.5 million people involved in their care. These are not insignificant numbers and by 2056, Dementia Australia projects there will be over 1 million people with a dementia diagnosis in Australia.
Dementia is the umbrella term for the condition where you have memory loss, change in intellectual function or change in personality – all impacting day-to-day function. There are over 100 diseases that may cause dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular dementia, Frontotemporal dementia and Alcohol-related, just to name a few. To be classified as having dementia, the person must have a change in function, for example not recognising a five dollar note, having difficulty reading a newspaper or using household items. Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common after the age of 65.
While there is currently no cure for dementia, there are lots of things a person with dementia and their carer can do to slow the progression of the disease, for example:
- Maintaining physical and mental activity
- Having a good diet
- Watching your blood pressure and cholesterol
- Staying socially involved
We caught up with Wellbeing Consultant, Glen Sorensen at a recent Dementia Information forum hosted by LiveBetter, who spoke about the importance of maintaining wellbeing as well as some practical tips to create a dementia friendly home.
Glen said the principles of wellbeing apply to just about everyone, things like maintaining your physical and emotional health plus social connections and having purpose.
“However, for people with dementia there are a few other things to consider, like adapting the home environment. Some examples may include:
- Removing clutter
- Ensuring household items are visible e.g. toaster and kettle
- Installing signs on cupboards
- Using contrasting colours to help the person identify objects, for example a chair or a toilet seat.
“In addition to this, it’s important that the person with dementia continues to participate in day-to-day activities as much as possible. It could be folding washing, sweeping or drying up after meals to help build a sense of purpose.”
Jenny Roberts from Dementia Australia who also spoke at the forum said while getting a diagnosis can be daunting for the person and their family, it’s important to seek help early, and there are lots of services out there to support carers and their loved ones.