What care and support is available to people with dementia?

Ongoing management and support for people with dementia as well as their family, friends and carers is essential. Management is based on treating symptoms through a combination of interventions aimed at maintaining quality of life and promoting and maintaining functional and social independence. Refer to Aged care and support services used by people with dementia for more information on the variety of services available to people with dementia and their family, friends and carers.

Upon diagnosis, health and aged care professionals are recommended to provide people with dementia and their family/friends/carers with further information to ensure they are equipped with the correct information to make suitable arrangements. This includes discussing dementia resources and support services, as well as the implications of dementia on a person’s financial and legal decision making (including enduring guardianship, power of attorney and development of advance care plans) (Guideline Adaptation Committee 2016).

There are a number of interventions which do not involve medications (referred to as non-pharmacological interventions) to manage dementia and maximise quality of life, with the adoption of these based on the individual’s ability, preferences and access to services. These include: implementing care management plans tailored to the individual (person-centred care models); providing cognitive and behavioural training and therapies (including alternative therapies such as music or animal-assisted therapies); rehabilitation and re-enablement (the process of a person regaining skills, confidence and independence); engaging in physical and social activities tailored to people with dementia; and designing and modifying homes and communities that support independence. There is still little research and evidence on the impact and effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions to manage dementia.

People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease may be prescribed dementia-specific medications to treat their symptoms, which are subsidised by the Australian Government through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Other types of medications may be used to treat a number of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (such as depression or agitation) (Guideline Adaptation Committee 2016). Information on dispensing patterns of dementia specific medications is detailed in Prescriptions for dementia-specific medications.

Promoting a healthy lifestyle through a balanced diet and suitable exercise, as well as ongoing management of other health conditions are also recommended to assist in maximising quality of life and functional independence.

Need more information?

If you require more information about dementia, want to know where to seek help if dementia is suspected or want to find out about available support services refer to:

Dementia Australia website

The Dementia Guide by Dementia Australia

National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500 (a free and confidential service to discuss dementia and memory loss concerns for yourself or others).

Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service: 1800 699 799 (if needing help to manage behaviour associated with dementia)

My Aged Care (for information on, and applying for access to government-subsidised aged care services).