Dementia will make daily activities harder. For older people the difficulties caused by dementia are often compounded by reduced physical strength and mobility or other medical conditions they may have.
Carers and families often worry about the safety of the person with dementia living at home, especially if the person is living alone or their primary support is at some distance away.
Stay at home or move to a retirement village?
A frequent question that arises following diagnosis is whether to stay at home or move to a supported living environment, like a retirement village. There are pros and cons for both moving or staying at home.
Careful consideration needs to be made for both yourself and your person about the advantages and disadvantages of moving. Talk with trusted family members, your GP, a social worker or counsellor (if available) and a financial advisor to give you different perspectives on the merits of a move.
You can also read this page of the Senior’s Rights Service about retirement village living or this document on Retirement Village Living by NSW Fair Trading.
Here are some experiences people with dementia and their carers have shared:
Tony and Cherie
Tony and Cherie retired to a coastal location two hours away from the major city where most of their family lived and where they visited medical specialists. Tony had a minor stroke a few years earlier and permanent weakness on one side of his body increasing his risk of falls. Now in their 80s and following Cherie’s dementia diagnosis they considered how they would manage remaining in their home into the future.
After discussions with their family, they decided to move to a retirement village closer to the city with onsite 24-hour nurse call and the opportunity for additional assistance when needed. They worried that leaving their familiar home and friends would be particularly hard for Cherie.
Now, nearly 3 years later, they are very happy. They found the community offered by the village a great support. Particularly now that neither drives, the village bus to the shops and outings is a great boost to maintaining their independence. Tony said that moving soon after Cherie’s diagnosis was the right time. It gave her time to adjust to her new home and learn her way around.
Ray and Cliff
Ray and Cliff had lived in their inner-city home for 30 years. They lived close to friends, knew their neighbours and were regulars at local cafes and restaurants. As Cliff’s memory declined, they chose to stay in their own home, close to their social circle and amenities.
They worked with an occupational therapist to do some home modifications that helps Cliff cope with visual problems from macular degeneration that was affecting his ability to manage daily activities and had contributed to several recent falls at home.
Both Cliff and Ray were very happy with the decision to remain in their home. The furniture, pictures and items they’d collected on overseas trips over thirty years were familiar and remain a source of joyful memories. Ray commented that “if we had moved, we would’ve had to downsize. We would’ve lost some of these items – which are a source of happy memories for Cliff as well”.
Consider the following
- Talk with trusted family members, your GP, a social worker or counsellor (if available) and a financial advisor to give you different perspectives on the merits of a move.
- Ask your person’s doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist or aged care service, if required, to assist with living at home.