An estimated 800,000 people in this country live with dementia. And, because of the unique nature of the condition, their families and friends are also living with it – including their 670,000 family carers.
It can affect anyone – whatever their mental and physical condition – but the most obvious link is with age: one in 25 people in their 70s are affected, moving up to one in six of those over 80. And while there is strong research to show that genetic links and lifestyle play their part, we know that staying mentally active is no safeguard.
We also know that the numbers of people suffering from the many forms of dementia are set to rise steeply in the years ahead.
Because carers are not simply looking after a person’s physical condition, but dealing with issues arising from their mental condition as well, there are three important ramifications:
- The demands of someone with dementia make it increasingly difficult for the person to be kept in a home setting – especially if the main carer is themself elderly or in poor health. Indeed, an estimated 80 per cent of those in a care home have some form and degree of dementia;
- Professional staff caring for them will need to be specially trained, and the care setting should be designed to be supportive of their condition;
- Above all, families should recognise that someone with dementia may need to be in specialist care far longer than the average elderly person.
Why does dementia care cost more?
The more complex needs of those living with dementia demand a higher level of care from properly trained staff. This will almost certainly involve increased care costs.
Indeed, there are risks involved in not being cared for by someone without appropriate training. The Alzheimer’s Society has highlighted the fact that this leads to needs not being recognized and properly supported, and to a higher risk of being admitted to hospital.
For more information on dementia care and costs, visit PayingForCare.org where you will find useful information on care home fees and matters related to elderly care.
Choosing the right care home – and paying for it
Do check with the homes you are looking at whether they offer specialist dementia care.
One quick way to determine what is available (and suitable) locally are the care homes inspection reports available from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – www.cqc.org.uk/search-criteria/care-homes – or you could ask your local authority, Alzheimer’s Society or Age UK which homes they would recommend.
Anyone assessed as having sufficient means by the local authority will be expected to pay for the care provided. In the current environment, there is very little chance of someone receiving “NHS Continuing Care” because of their dementia, unless it is accompanied by other serious conditions.
In the words of the NHS: “To be eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare, the person must be assessed as having a ‘primary health need’ and have a complex medical condition and substantial and ongoing care needs. Not everyone with a disability or long-term condition will be eligible.”
You may, though, be entitled to Registered Nursing Care Contribution – a tax-free, non-means-tested benefit paid by the NHS to cover your nursing or medical care. Attendance Allowance can also be used towards the cost.
Getting expert advice on what support you may – or may not – be entitled to is critical when planning for future care needs, and clicking here will put you in touch with an independent care fees advisor.
This is, if anything, even more important when dementia has been a primary factor in placing the person in care because, potentially, of the longer time they will spend there.
For more information on choosing the right care home for someone with dementia, click here.