Aged care options for people with early signs of dementia


More than 400,000 Australians live with dementia, which can affect thinking, memory, brain function and behaviour.

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms, or have been diagnosed with dementia, there are several aged care options that can provide vital support:

Aged care options for people with early signs of dementia

Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common after the age of 65.

The Australian Government provides the following subsidised supports for older people experiencing dementia:


Home Care Packages.

Can you continue living at home if you are experiencing early signs of dementia?

Yes. Home Care Packages can make this possible. If you are diagnosed early, you may be eligible to receive the support you need to continue living independently via a government subsidised Home Care Package.

Home Care Packages can help with housework and daily tasks, personal care, transport, home modifications and needs-specific equipment and clinical care, including physiotherapy and nursing.

Read more about what a Home Care Package can pay for:

What can my home care package funds be used for? (


How can you access a Home Care Package?

To be eligible for a Home Care Package, you must be aged 65 or older, or 50 years or older for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. A younger person with dementia may also qualify. Government organisation My Aged Care manages Home Care Packages. They can be contacted on 1800 200 422.

You can also check your eligibility with My Aged Care’s online eligibility checker.

The first step to accessing a Home Care Package is to register with My Aged Care and apply for an aged care assessment (ACAT assessment).

Read more about the assessment and assignment process here:

ACAT Assessment Guide – everything you need to know (


Respite Care

Caring for someone with dementia can be an emotional experience and a break can benefit both the carer and the person receiving care. It gives the carer some time to refresh themselves so that their caring role continues to be positive, and the person receiving care can experience new environments and activities.

Respite care can be offered in the home, at a day facility or in an aged care home.

Read more about government subsidised respite care:

How can I get subsidised respite care? – Aged Care Decisions

Respite care is also an excellent way to trial care within an aged care facility before considering moving into permanent care.

Read more about residential respite care:

The pros and cons of residential respite care for seniors (


Dementia-specific residential aged care

Residential aged care facilities or services (otherwise known as nursing homes) are invaluable for people experiencing medium to advanced stages of dementia.

Nursing homes with dementia wards are equipped to manage residents with cognition issues, difficulties in undertaking daily activities such as toileting, eating meals, and mobility, and specific behaviours such as wandering.

Many high level and dementia-specific aged care homes also provide activities such as music, art and cognitive therapies that benefit people with dementia.

There are three types of dementia care offered by Australian nursing homes.

  • Dementia-friendly nursing homes cater for seniors with mild dementia symptoms.
  • Dementia-specific wards for people with more advanced dementia or additional medical conditions
  • Secure dementia wards for people who have advanced symptoms of dementia, both psychologically and behaviourally, who would not be safe in a general nursing home environment and are often at risk of wandering.

Read more about dementia-specific residential aged care facilities:

How do I find dementia-specific nursing homes? – Aged Care Decisions


Aged Care Decisions’ FREE service helps thousands of families find suitable and available dementia care providers.

Our custom-built software, together with our Placement Specialists, can match your location, budget, care needs and personal preferences with available providers that suit your specific needs.

Our service is 100% FREE, 100% independent, and 100% personal.

We do all the running around for you, with no stress, no hassle, and at ZERO cost to you.

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Why is it crucial to diagnose dementia early?

A dementia diagnosis often comes as a shock and a wave of overwhelming emotions. However, it can also offer clarity in a situation where sufferers have felt confused, anxious, and alone. It can be helpful to finally understand why they have been experiencing these symptoms.

An early diagnosis delivers many benefits. It gives people with dementia the opportunity to plan for their future, while gaining some control over the condition. It also helps catch other conditions that mimic dementia, which are often treatable.

A key benefit of an early dementia diagnosis is that it can delay entry into an aged care home. Current studies provide evidence that early diagnosis can help people stay in their own home longer. This is because many dementia treatments can prolong independence when started early and enhance life quality for people with dementia.

Dementia refers to the symptoms caused by many different conditions. Some examples of these conditions are Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease. Well-known dementia symptoms include memory loss, confusion, and a loss of ability to do daily tasks. It’svital to be aware of the early signs and seek treatment.


What are the early signs of dementia?

Dementia symptoms can vary and may come on gradually. Some early warning signs include:

  • Trouble remembering recent events and general memory problems.
  • Onset of confusion that increases in severity.
  • Difficulty remembering words.
  • Trouble with abstract thinking, like numbers and finances
  • Problems concentrating
  • Decreased ability to judge distance.
  • Difficulty making appropriate decisions.
  • Misplacing objects in odd places
  • Changes in behaviour and personality
  • Mood changes, including depression, apathy, and general withdrawal.
  • Reduced or complete loss of ability to do daily tasks.

It is normal to forget things, be unable to recall a word or get distracted on occasion. People with dementia usually have more consistent symptoms that are noticeably different to their typical abilities.

The above symptoms are not always a result of dementia, so it’s important to see a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and determine the underlying cause of any symptoms.


Conditions similar to dementia

Dementia-like symptoms are not always a result of dementia. Many other conditions can cause changes in personality, behaviour and ability that appear similar to dementia, which is why it’s so important to seek medical advice. These conditions include:

  • Delirium
  • Vision and hearing problems
  • Head trauma
  • Cancer
  • Infections
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus
  • Heart and lung disorders
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Toxic metals
  • Hormone disruption

During the diagnostic process, doctors normally screen for these conditions before diagnosing dementia. However, they can sometimes be missed because they often mimic dementia so closely. A close look at a patient’s medical history, current symptoms, timeline of symptoms, mental and physical status and labs can help doctors make an accurate diagnosis.


Helpful resources for people affected by dementia

Read more about living with early-stage dementia:

Maximising quality of life for people living with dementia (

Organisations that provide support and assistance for people experiencing dementia, and their loved ones, include:

Dementia Australia – the national peak body for people impacted by dementia in Australia. Their website offers free resources including help sheets, toolkits, guides, videos, and apps, translated into 38 languages.

Home | Dementia Australia

Dementia Support Australia – a government initiative that helps health care professionals and family members supporting a person living with dementia. They provide a 24-hour helpline, specialised clinical support and advice.

Nationwide, 24-hour carer support | Dementia Support Australia


Aged Care Decisions’ FREE service helps thousands of Australian families to find appropriate aged care vacancies and providers.

Our custom-built software, together with our Placement Specialists, can match your location, budget, care needs and personal preferences with available providers that suit your specific needs.

Our service is 100% FREE, 100% independent, and 100% personal.

We do all the running around for you, with no stress, no hassle, and at ZERO cost to you.

Contact us here to get started.


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