There are almost 500,000 Australians living with dementia. Rather than one disease, there are many types of dementia – all with their own presentations that can include a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and physical functioning. Types of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and Lewy body disease. Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common after the age of 65.
Research into quality dementia care continues to grow and provides important insights into improving quality of life of people with dementia, their families and carers.
Where once secure facilities and drug-therapy were the norm when it came to dementia care, there is now a move towards discovering ways to improve the quality of life for those living with dementia by managing their individual symptoms and providing a supportive environment.
Alternative therapies aim to manage the behavioural and psychological symptoms through a variety of methods. Therapies can include validation therapy, reality orientation, reminiscence therapy and sensory therapies.
According to Dementia Australia, there is some limited evidence that these therapies are beneficial in improving behaviour, mood and possibly cognition but further rigorous study is needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of these therapies.
Technology such as sensor mats and wearable devices are being successfully used to support people living with dementia in community settings. The technology allows residents to continue to live independently but with measures in place to keep them safe and secure. Specific dementia apps have also been designed to engage people with dementia and provide talking points for carers and family visitors.
Sensor mats can be placed at the side of the bed or at the front door of the apartment to send an alert to carers that a resident is on the move and may need some support, while wearable technology can be used as a tracking device and can also send alerts to carers if a person is attempting to wander outside the community.
In Seasons communities, a combined approach is used to keep dementia residents safe, engaged and living with dignity. Residents with dementia have access to technology to keep them safe in their own apartments as well as dedicated day respite programs to keep them occupied during the day as well as into the evening in some communities.
This ensures that residents get to participate in community events and activities and have access to tailored care to suit their needs.