Caring for someone living with dementia at home can be physically, mentally, emotionally and economically demanding, so being equipped with the right skills and information is vital for meeting the challenge.
Free workshops for carers of people living with dementia will be held in Wagga Wagga next month where health experts will offer practical advice on relevant themes like hospitalisation risk factors, proactive care planning and where to seek help.
The Dementia Carer Support Program workshops are being run by The Dementia Centre, HammondCare on Tuesday, October 3 and Tuesday, October 10 in Wagga Wagga.
Other workshops are planned for Griffith on Friday, October 6 and Monday, October 9, Corowa on Wednesday, October 4 and Wednesday, October 11 and Young on Thursday, October 5 and Thursday, October 12.
An Institute of Health and Welfare report earlier this year estimated there were up to 337,200 Australians in informal carer roles for people living in dementia in 2021. The report also found carers are working 60 hours a week or more in their unpaid roles.
Geriatrician Mark Hohenberg, who is part of the team delivering the workshops, said the number of people in carer roles will increase in the years ahead, with the Federal Government supporting more older people to remain independent and to live and thrive in their own home.
"Carers will tell you that their role looking after a loved one living with dementia can be rewarding. Changes over time as the disease progresses can make caring harder," Dr Hohenberg said.
"We know that up to 90 per cent of people living with dementia will experience changes in their behaviour at some point.
"Understanding these changes can help ensure better support and avoid unnecessary clinical and communication deteriorations."
The program involves two practical, 3-hour workshops - the first covers understanding dementia while the second is about planning for the future.
Information covered by the workshops includes guidance for carers on looking out for their own wellbeing, including continuing links with friends and family.
Dr Hohenberg said: "You will not be at your best as a carer if your own personal needs are not being met such as your own health, maintaining social connectedness and time for yourself."
A priority of the workshops is recognising and addressing the risk factors for someone living with dementia that can lead to preventable hospitalisation, including undiagnosed medical issues such as pain, depression as well as other care needs that could have been missed.
"It's incredibly meaningful to be able to recognise these health issues before they escalate by seeking help from your local GP, specialists or services like Dementia Support Australia," Dr Hohenberg said.
The workshops intended for carers of people living with dementia follow The Dementia Centre's successful Talking about Dementia events, open to anyone with an interest, held in June.
The Dementia Carer Support Program is supported by funding by the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network.
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