Recently published research reveals the real cost of dementia care, with the findings proving to be “much higher” than previous estimates.
The Direct health and residential care costs of people living with dementia in Australian residential aged care study, is believed to be the most precise research of its kind, with researchers examining 541 individuals in 17 aged care homes.
It revealed that the total annual cost of caring for someone with dementia in residential aged care is around $88,000, with 54 per cent of the total put towards pharmacological costs and 38 per cent to hospital care.
National peak bodies, such as Dementia Australia, are calling for a full overhaul of the aged care sector, with a focus on reducing costs and informing sustainable future funding.
“This suggests that clinical interventions are more common in residential aged care rather than optioning for a more holistic approach,” said Dementia Australia Chief Maree McCabe.
“We know from our own research and internationally that person-centred care can reduce the use of antipsychotics and other drugs.
“Greater investment in training and education across the acute and aged care sectors in the management of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia will result in improved quality of life for people living with dementia and decrease the length of stay in hospitals.
“Building awareness of dementia-friendly principles will also support people in their communities to remain meaningfully engaged and potentially stay in their homes for longer.
“This research reinforces the need for a more strategic investment in dementia services to avoid an escalation in costs that will be unsustainable.”
Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) Chief Pat Sparrow says that the research provides “valuable detail” on the true cost of dementia care and hopes for a “fuller understanding” of the sector’s needs.
“By presenting a comprehensive study of 541 people living with dementia and their care needs, this research provides a clearer understanding of the cost of meeting those needs particularly when it comes to the complex health needs of the many older Australians in residential care living with dementia,” said Ms Sparrow.
“With rates of dementia predicted to double by 2050, and one in three Australians born today eventually facing a dementia diagnosis, we need to be sure that future funding for aged care is sustainable and ensures that as a community, we are able to tackle the enormous social and economic challenge of dementia into the future.
“Now is the time to secure the funding mix that will allow the sector to adequately care for older Australians with dementia as they age.
Ms McCabe commended “surveys like this” in contributing to growing our understanding of the scale of the societal and economic challenge posed by a growing population of older Australians living with dementia, adding that it is “now up to the Government to heed the lessons research like this provides”.
Were you aware that the cost of dementia care was so high? Are you caring for someone with dementia? Do you do it from home or in a residential care facility?