Why is dementia so scary?

Dementia is scary. There is no cure, it can manifest in different ways, it does not discriminate between the organic vegans and the fast-food junkies and there are 1600 new cases in Australia every single week. According to research that number will have doubled in 20 years if we don’t make any breakthroughs regarding the cause or the cure in that time.

The other scary part is that dementia doesn’t kill you, so you can live with it for years and remain otherwise healthy. So why isn’t the aged care system helping families and carers to look after dementia sufferers in their own homes? Not only is it not helping, according to a recent Alzheimer’s Australia report the aged care system seems to be actively obscuring information which might help families work out their options.

Perhaps the reason is that the aged care system is run by real, everyday people. And those people also think dementia is scary. Perhaps fear of the unknown is shaping our system. For thousands of years ‘madness’ and ‘insanity’ have been locked up and hidden away from society. Asylums were, ironically enough, places of great suffering for the committed.

It’s easy to say such practices are no more, but this report shows that the aged care system is making it difficult for families to do anything but put their loved ones in residential aged care facilities. There were also suggestions of dementia sufferers being restrained, both physically and through the use of antipsychotics. It wouldn’t be possible for us to return to the conditions found in the insane asylums of old, but perhaps we are still being asked to hide our dementia sufferers away with placations of ‘it’s for the best’.

It might be selfish, but if I’m going to lose my marbles I’d rather do it at home with people who love me, home-cooked meals, a garden to sit in and a television with more than one channel.

More information
Read more about the Alzheimer’s Australia report on how the aged care system is failing dementia sufferers and their families

If you had dementia would you rather stay at home or become a resident at an aged care facility?

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Have your say
What do you think? Should the aged care system pull its head out of the sand and take notice of dementia sufferers and their families, or is Alzheimer’s Australia just making a fuss over nothing?

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