Dementia: Support and Respite For Carers

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Article by 

Maree McCabe

​Support for families and carers

Dementia Australia provides high-quality services and support to meet family and carer needs. We recognise, promote and value carers and care relationships and understand the different needs of people in care relationships.

Family members and friends often find themselves in the role of a carer when a loved one is living with dementia.

While caring for your loved one can be rewarding, it can also have its tough days, and you may not be taking as much care of your emotional, mental or physical wellbeing.

Dementia Australia offers support for families and carers so they don’t feel alone. Services can help you:

  • Support the person to live well at home for as long as possible
  • Support the person to continue with their hobbies, activities and interests
  • Learn about dementia, so you’re better equipped to manage changes
  • Access support services and programs to maintain your health and wellbeing

How to access support

Joining a carer support group is a great way to share knowledge, tips and strategies with others who are going through a similar experience.

To find a group near you, call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or visit dementia.org.au. Alternatively, use the online service enquiry/referral request form: dementia.org.au/support/service-enquiry.

You can also call our National Dementia Helpline to book in professional counselling.

Alternatively, we regularly run education programs specifically designed for families and carers. These are designed in response to the specific needs of people caring for or supporting a family member living with all forms of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body disease, frontotemporal dementia and younger onset dementia.

The programs focus on providing knowledge, strategies and support that is aligned with the various stages of dementia. All sessions are delivered by our highly experienced facilitators who specialise in the delivery of education to people affected by dementia.

More information can be found via the National Dementia Helpline or at dementia. org.au/education.

Respite care

Respite is a form of support for all people living at home who have dementia, their families and carers. For the person living with dementia, respite can be an opportunity to enjoy relationships and meaningful activities separate from their family or carer and can be within their own home or elsewhere. Respite can also be a time where families and carers are able to sustain their personal wellbeing through work, leisure, interests and self-care.

The government funds many different types of respite services. Particular services are available in different areas and access will depend on where you live and the eligibility of the person with dementia.

All services should offer flexibility to cater for individual needs, preferred types of respite and personal circumstances. The consumer should have choice and control over the planning and delivery of these services.

Tips when considering respite

It is important to prioritise your needs and goals when thinking about respite. Things to consider:

  • What type of respite support is right for you?
  • Is the type of service provided when you want it, at the time you want it?
  • Do respite activities, staff and group members match the personal interests of the person receiving the respite service?
  • Is the location and atmosphere safe, friendly and supportive?
  • How are individual interests and wellbeing assessed, supported, discussed and reviewed?

Adjusting to respite

It may take time to feel confident and comfortable using respite services. It can help to:

  • Talk with others about their experiences
  • Take short respite breaks before having longer ones
  • Share the initial experience with your respite worker in order to help everyone to get to know each other.

If you are not happy with the service, talk to the service provider as it may be something that is easily adjusted, or you may want to consider different respite options.

To find out what respite services are available in your area there are a number of contacts:

Dementia Australia National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500

My Aged Care 1800 200 422

The Carer Gateway 1800 422 737

Emergency Respite Accommodation 1800 059 059

National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500

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In Need of Support?

Carer Gateway is an Australian Government program providing free services and support for carers. Call Carer Gateway for support and access to services, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm local time.

Assistance with accessing emergency respite is available any time, 24/7.

1800 422 737 

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