Understanding dementia

Dementia describes an impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions. This interferes with doing everyday activities. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia.

Though dementia mostly affects older adults, it is not a part of normal ageing.

Over time, the person’s abilities will deteriorate, and care needs increase. Many people living with advanced dementia move into residential aged care to receive the support and care they need, including end of life care.

There is growing awareness of dementia and its impacts on individuals and families. There are also resources that can help an older person with dementia live as fully as possible for as long as possible.

Dementia Australia has produced a useful booklet, Dementia Guide, that deals with different stages of the dementia journey guide.

Dementia Australia has information in different languages and resources for diverse population groups.

Dementia Australia's Dementia Guide (15.2MB pdf)

Dementia and dying

Dementia is a progressive disease without a cure. People with dementia do not always die of dementia but dementia was the second leading cause of death in Australia in 2018.

Most people in the later stages of dementia will need total care. 

Planning ahead is very important and allows the person and the family to consider what they want and what is possible. Planning helps to reduce worry and stress when it comes to treatment in times of crisis.

Advance care planning is very important when planning for care at the end of life.

Realities for Families

Families will often be involved in providing care and support for some time. The nature and type of care required will change over time. As well as the care responsibilities, families can experience emotional distress as the nature of their relationship with the person changes.

For many families, there will be a decision to seek aged care services and entry into residential aged care to provide the constant care that may be needed.

This can be distressing to a partner or others in the family when they realise, they can no longer manage all the care needs.

MyAgedCare has information on caring for someone living with dementia.

This information was drawn from the following resources:

Last updated 02 August 2021