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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.

Dementia symptoms are not a normal part of the aging process, so it’s vital to be aware of the early signs and seek treatment.


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 that are 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.


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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 also offers clarity in a situation where sufferers have felt confused, anxious and alone. It can be a relief to finally understand why they have been experiencing these symptoms.

An early diagnosis provides 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 available dementia treatment can prolong independence when started early and enhance life quality for people with dementia.

Can I continue living at home if I experience early signs of dementia?

If you are diagnosed early with dementia, it is often possible to continue living independently at home. With the right treatment, you may continue living the same lifestyle you have always lived for some time. However, as dementia is usually a progressive condition, your needs will likely change over time. You will likely need some help at home to enable you to continue living independently.

Home care packages provide support funding to make this possible. If you are assigned a package, your needs will be assessed at one of four levels. The higher the need, the higher the amount of funding provided for support at home:

  • Level 1 –$9,026.45 per year
  • Level 2 – $15,877.50 per year
  • Level 3 – $34,550.90 per year
  • Level 4 –$52,377.50 per year.

Find out whether you’re eligible for a home care package here.

What services do home care packages cover?

As a home care package recipient, you can get support for:

  • Jobs around the house, like cleaning, maintenance and gardening
  • Personal care tasks, like dressing, bathing, and eating
  • Home modifications to help with mobility and ensure safety
  • Personal equipment, like walking frames
  • Clinical care, like physiotherapy and nursing.

Dementia and 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. Respite care can be offered in the home, at a day facility or in an aged care home. It gives the carer some time to refresh themselves so that their caring role continues to be a positive one. The person receiving care has the opportunity to build new relationships, experience a new environment and participate in new and rewarding experiences, like music, art, cooking and gardening.

Respite care is also a great way to try care in an aged care facility before considering moving into permanent care.

Aged Care Decisions can help you find a quality respite care provider in your local area. Click here to complete our simple online form.


Aged care facilities and dementia patients

People with dementia may choose to move to an aged care facility to receive optimal care tailored to their needs. The three types of support provided at aged care facilities include low level and high level care, plus dementia-specific care. Some facilities offer all three types of support, whilst others may be more limited and not offer dementia-specific units for example.

Facilities that do support residents with dementia, offers different level of support.  For residents with later-stage or complex dementia needs, a high level or dementia-specific care facility is able to provide the right level of care and a safe environment. Most high level and dementia-specific aged care homes also provide beneficial activities, like music and art therapy, for people with dementia.

At Aged Care Decisions, we are passionate about helping find the right care for people with dementia so they can live an enjoyable and fulfilling life after their diagnosis. Call one of our friendly aged care specialists on 1300 870 775 or fill out this form and we will get in touch with you.


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