Planning urged for dementia

Carers and families should start planning for the future for loved ones living with dementia, a residential home provider has said.

Advocacy service Alzheimer's Marlborough educates on future planning. However, deciding between home-based care and residential care remains a difficult and very personal decision.

A dementia economic impact report compiled by consultancy firm Deloitte estimated there are 52,509 people with dementia in New Zealand, equating to 1.2 per cent of the population.

By 2020 it is predicted 62,750 people nationally will be living with the disease.

The report said in 2011 the total cost to the New Zealand health system was $596.3 million which was dominated by the cost of residential aged care at $371.9 million.

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board maintain people should live as independently at home for as long as possible with support measures in place. However, home care can place pressure on carers.

Jean Main's husband John Main has lived with dementia for 12 years. His symptoms progressively deteriorated to extent Jean cared for him 24/7.

She made the difficult call to put him into care two years ago.

Ministry of Health bed night data show in 2006/07 there were 17764 dementia-level bed nights in Marlborough which increased to 21913 bed nights in 2012/2013.

Ashwood Park residential home has 20 dementia beds.

Its owner Ross Bisset said more residential homes had opened up dementia beds to meet the needs of an ageing population in Marlborough.

"Dementia is increasing due to the geographical mix of the increasing number of over 65s and the late baby boomers kicking in in Marlborough in the next 10 to 15 years," Bisset said.

Pressure on dementia beds was sporadic though.

"In terms of the future it is crystal ball stuff. At times there is pressure on beds and at other times there is not.

"It is important families plan for the future for respite care for their loved ones. We offer respite care which gives carers a break and gives the resident time to adjust into residential care.

"As dementia increases funding will have to increase."

The Marlborough Express