This section of the Dementia Toolkit describes dementia and looks at key learnings and actions for delivery of palliative care and advance care planning for people living with dementia across care settings. There are eight domains of clinical care based on the ELDAC Care Model that have resources available to use as a staff member, as well as information to give to your clients or residents and their families. As this toolkit is not care setting specific, it should be used in conjunction with the 3 ELDAC toolkits – Residential Aged Care, Home Care and Primary Care.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. It affects people’s thinking, behaviour and the ability perform everyday tasks. 1
Dementia is a significant health and aged care issue with approximately 83 people with dementia per 1,000 Australians aged 65 and over. It is also the second leading cause of death in Australia. 2 In 2020, 14,500 people died due to dementia, but a further 25,700 people died with dementia. The main underlying causes of death for people who died with dementia were coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, accidental falls, Parkinson’s Disease and diabetes.2
Dementia is recognised as a terminal condition for which palliative care is appropriate. 3
There are many different types of dementia and the 4 most common types are:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Vascular dementia
- Lewy body dementia
- Frontotemporal dementia
For more information about the common types of dementia and their causes and symptoms see this infographic from the National Institute of Aging (NIA).
Younger onset dementia is the term used to describe people who have dementia before the age of 65. It is not a specific form of dementia since younger people can have any type of dementia, although the most common in this younger group is Alzheimer’s Disease. 4
Some people can have more than one type of dementia, such as both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. It is useful to know what type or types of dementia someone has as it might help with understanding and managing the symptoms of the dementia, as well as the importance of advance care planning.