4. Capacity of your loved one’s family and friends to keep supporting them
The availability and capacity of family carers is probably the most crucial part in supporting someone with dementia to keep living well at home. Carers often have other responsibilities such as work and children, which means they can’t support their loved one as much as they would like.
Being a carer is physically and emotionally demanding, and over time caring can take its toll. Carers should seek help and support from other family and friends, learn more about dementia, use services including respite care and Dementia Australia.
Carers often face a difficult choice between their own health and wellbeing, and supporting their loved one to remain at home. If carers are caring as much as their time, energy and physical and mental wellbeing will allow, and that care is not enough for their loved one’s needs, then more help is needed – and residential care is one way of getting that help.
5. Alternatives to nursing home care
Community care services are government-subsidised services to support older people to keep living at home. You can get up to 14 hours of care a week depending on need, though there is an assessment process and often a waiting time for services. You can pay for community care privately as well, although this can be very expensive.
An Aged Care Navigator (or from 2023 an “aged care finder”) can help you search for suitable available home care services.
Some families choose to move in with the person with dementia, or have them move in with family. This may be an option if there is suitable accommodation, and they are able to live together comfortably.
6. Availability of quality nursing home care
It’s emotionally easier to place a loved one in a nursing home if carers are confident the home will provide suitable care. Often, family want a nursing home that is geographically close so they can visit, has a suitable room (such as a single room with an ensuite), sufficient and kind staff with training in supporting people with dementia, a pleasant environment, nutritious appealing food, and quality clinical care.
It takes time to visit and pick a suitable nursing home, check it’s appropriately accredited, and understand how much it will cost. You might have to wait for a bed in a quality home. You can often trial the nursing home by having your loved one stay for two weeks of respite care.
When your loved one enters nursing home care, you’ll still be caring for them. You want to ensure you can continue to support your loved one emotionally and practically in partnership with the nursing home.