Children are being encouraged to be more 'nosy' in their parents lives during Dementia Awareness Month.
Children are being encouraged to be more 'nosy' in their parents lives during Dementia Awareness Month. Stockbyte

'Nosey' children wanted in the fight against dementia

DO YOU ever tell your sticky-beak children to mind their own business?

Well stop! It could help in the fight against dementia.

Children are being encouraged to take more of an interest in their parents lives to allow better planning and understanding when it comes to living with dementia.

And with September being Dementia Awareness Month, now is the time to have a nosey child!

"If the kids don't know what money their parents have and where, and the parent has dementia, it can be quite difficult to work out what their situation and options are, what they can afford and then act when help is needed," Boutique Advisers aged care expert Brenda Will said.

"Often houses can be disorganised and if parents don't speak openly with their kids and keep their finances private, you're in a situation where nobody knows what their financial position is, and it just adds to the burden.

"It's a tricky thing then finding information on all the various assets and other bits of information, and emotionally it is already very difficult.

"It's best to develop a plan and carefully consider having legal documents prepared when the parent has absolute clarity of mind and you know what you want done."

Nearly a third of Australians over the age of 85 and almost one in 10 over 65 are living with dementia, while it became the leading cause of death in among women in 2016.

Ms Will said it was vital that children took an active role in their parents' lives and remined vigilant for the early warning signs.

"If they're only getting together as a family a couple of times a year, parents can put on their happy face," she said.

"You may not pick up on the signs that someone is starting to struggle with dementia. You could see them the next day, and the situation could be very different.

"It's about keeping an eye on parents, checking in on them more regularly and being a bit nosier into their finances and how they're managing. Don't assume because the house is still there, that they're ok."

Ms Will acknowledged the major emotional toll dementia places on everyone involved but insisted there was help available.

"You have this parent who has been this pillar of authority, control and responsibility and to see critical things falling down and them not being able to deal with basic tasks, it can be hard to believe and quite devastating for children to deal with," Ms Will said.

"But there are plenty of options out there and a lot of help available, acting sooner rather than later can make all the difference."

Ms Will said families should take these steps should a sudden need to enter a parent into aged care or provide a home care service, due to dementia, arise:

  • Appropriate documents arranged: Older Australians must carefully consider getting an Enduring Power of Attorney established whilst they can. They may find they are unable to legally execute such a document after Dementia has been diagnosed so it needs to be done early.  The same applies to preparing Wills.
  • Planning for financial costs of care: Know the financial situation to ensure the affordability of care.  Also consider the potential loss of income to those family members dropping out of work to provide care to the person with dementia, something that is almost always overlooked.
  • Find the right facility: There are dementia specific facilities with specially trained staff and security.  Important to find the right facility that offers a safe environment and meets needs. Rise in dementia is seeing more competition for places, so planning is essential. 
  • Make Informed Decisions: There are a number of care options. This can be in the form of home care, day care, respite (or some combination of these) or residential care.  Information and education to better understand dementia is essential so families can better understand what to expect and how best to deal with and support their changing parent.
  • Strong Family Support: the need for care can arise urgently, you're dealing with emotions, finances, issues finding a facility. Important for family members to get ongoing support themselves whether that be through friends, family, organizations or carer support groups.

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