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Respite care for people with dementia

Respite care for people with dementia
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Respite care for carers of people with dementia

Caring for a person with dementia can be rewarding, but it can be physically and emotionally tiring as well. It’s important to take a regular break from your caring role to look after your own needs as well. This can happen through respite care.

There are many ways to get respite care. It can be done informally with friends or family, or through formal respite services. It’s a matter of finding the program or situation that suits you, your family and the person you care for.

Some types of respite care involve an assessment of your situation. These assessments are designed to help you receive the support you need, including finding out if you are eligible to receive government-supported services.

Costs for respite care can vary depending on your circumstances and the type of help you need. The Australian Government subsidises a range of aged care services in Australia. If your personal circumstances allow, it’s expected you’ll contribute towards the cost of your care if you can afford to do so.

You may be worried about leaving the person you care for while you take a break. Respite care can be helpful for them as well. It gives the person with dementia the opportunity to meet and talk to other people and provides them with new experiences. They can also become used to being cared for by other people.

And it gives you, as the carer, time to catch up on some of the things you’ve put aside, like seeing friends, or having a holiday, or just sleeping properly again for a while.

The person with dementia may be anxious about respite care at first, but being positive about the break and planning ahead can help calm their feelings. Remember, it’s very important for you to take a break to look after your own needs as well. This type of support may mean you can continue in your caring role for longer.

How respite is used by carers of people with dementia

There are many ways carers of people with dementia can make the most of respite care. It can be used to provide care in an emergency or arranged for a longer period of time in a residential facility.

For emergency respite care, call 1800 052 222 during business hours or 1800 059 059 outside business hours.

To use residential respite, the person with dementia must be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to determine the level of care required. Contact details for your local ACAT can be found on the Age page at the front of the telephone directory or by visiting the My Aged Care website or contacting the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

How you use your respite time is up to you. You can use the time to have a rest, socialise with friends, pursue your hobbies, go to the dentist, attend to business or even to go on a holiday. There are no rules. If at all possible, make some of the time about enjoyment, not just recovery.

Respite care can last for a few hours or days, or for longer periods. How much respite care you receive depends on your individual situation and the services available in your area.

Last reviewed: January 2017

Need more information?

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Alzheimer's Australia | Using respite care

Respite careenables families and carers to have a rest, go out, attend to business or go on a holiday. Many people find that a regular break means that they can recharge and avoid burn out. It also gives a person with dementia an opportunity to socialise and meet other people. The Government funds many different types of respite to help families and carers. If you want to know more about what respite is available in your area there are a number of organisations that can help you.

Read more on Alzheimer's Australia website

Alzheimer's Australia | Taking care of yourself

Taking a break Taking a break from caring, often called respite or respite care, is important for anyone providing day to day care for someone with dementia.

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Caring for someone with dementia can be physically and emotionally tiring and stressful. Families and carers can easily become isolated, particularly if they are unable to leave the person they are caring for. Regular breaks mean that you can have a rest, go out, attend to business or go on a holiday and gives carers something to look forward to and experiences to look back on.

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Dementia is a name given to a group of symptoms which result from failing brain functions. The major signs are memory loss, confusion, disorientation and lessening of intellectual functioning.

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Alzheimer's Australia | Services available for people with Younger Onset Dementia

The task of living with or caring for someone with younger onset dementia can be difficult, and at times feel overwhelming. However, there are a number of organisations which provide services to help both the person living with dementia and their carers continue caring for people with dementia at home.

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Alzheimer's Australia | Sleeping

Causes of sleeping problems Other considerations Who can help? Problems with sleeping are a common occurrence for people with dementia. Some people sleep during the day and are awake and restless at night. Some are no longer able to tell the difference between night and day, while others are simply not as active as they used to be and consequently need less sleep.

Read more on Alzheimer's Australia website

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