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Benefits of getting a dementia diagnosis

The earlier dementia is diagnosed, the more time you have to get the benefits.

Senior woman

Many people fear getting a dementia diagnosis. They’re scared about what a diagnosis might mean for their future or think it’s futile if nothing can be done to cure the condition. But we know taking proactive steps to get assessed leads to better outcomes. The earlier dementia is diagnosed, the more time you have to get the benefits of a dementia diagnosis.

In a recent UK survey conducted with over 1000 people affected by dementia, 91% saw clear benefits to getting a diagnosis. Many wished they had received their diagnosis earlier but put off getting an assessment because of denial or confusing dementia with old age. The most frequently cited benefits of getting a dementia diagnosis were:

Benefits of getting a diagnosis

Knowing the type

There are different symptoms, treatments and management strategies for each dementia type. Knowing the type of dementia means it can be better managed and treated.  

“Getting the diagnosis helped us to know what we were dealing with. Knowing Bernie has vascular dementia gave us the opportunity to be proactive about talking with his surgeon and his anaesthetist to ensure a good outcome when he had a hip replacement.”

Janice, carer.

Planning ahead

A diagnosis often changes how people make plans and decisions about their lives. Many people focus more on doing things that are important to them, such as spending time with people they love, or travelling. After diagnosis is a good time to make legal and medical decisions for the future such as setting up power of attorney and enduring guardianship documents.

Get subsidised healthcare and support services to help you manage at home

A dementia diagnosis means you can access rehabilitative treatments such as brain training, cognitive rehabilitation and cognitive stimulation which can help people to manage memory and thinking difficulties.

Subsidised healthcare and support services include:

A chronic disease management plan: a holistic plan taking account all chronic health conditions, including dementia. The plan sets out the different health professionals who might be involved in treatment and care. As part of the plan you meet every three months with the practice nurse (for about 40 minutes) and the GP (for about 20 minutes) every three months for ongoing advice. You can get five subsidised visits to allied health practitioners such as speech or occupational therapy every year under the plan.

A mental health plan: It is common for people with dementia to experience depression or anxiety. If the person living with dementia experiences mental ill health ask their GP for a mental health plan which provides 20 subsidised treatment sessions with a psychologist, counsellor or social worker every year. Note. A dementia diagnosis can also mean access to free dementia counselling via Dementia Australia.

Subsidised supports for day-to-day living: A diagnosis of dementia can help people to get services to assist with everyday activities. This can include things like help at home with cleaning, meals and showering, social supports such as activity groups, and home modifications and equipment such as safety rails or shower chairs.

There is also the Dementia Support Australia’s Staying at Home program for carer wellbeing and respite. And the Australian Government’s CarerGateway program which provides emotional and practical services and support for carers.

“Another benefit of the diagnosis came from our financial advisor who suggested I apply for a carer allowance. The other big thing that changed for the positive was registering for My Aged Care. Even though it took a few months to get the initial visit, she was really helpful in saying, ‘well this is the situation, and this is what we can do to assist’. She also referred me to a carers course.”

Janice, carer.

Post-diagnostic support programs

A dementia diagnosis opens the door to education and support programs including:

Benefits of a diagnosis at every stage

People may be diagnosed with dementia at different stages – early (mild), middle (moderate) or late (advanced).

Getting a diagnosis during the early stages means you will have more time to understand and adjust to the condition, as well as make positive changes that can improve your quality of life or that of your loved one. Medications and therapies are often most helpful for people in the mild to moderate stages.

A diagnosis in the moderate stages provides additional justification for government subsidised services including home modifications, mobility aids and care and support at home. It can also include overnight care and help with eating and personal care. These supports can be accessed through MyAgedCare (over 65 years) or NDIS (under 65 years). If changed behaviour impacts people living with dementia, support is also available via Dementia Support Australia.

A diagnosis is important in the later stages, even if the person is already receiving home care or living in residential care. A dementia diagnosis can provide access to extra government financial subsidies for people with dementia. Families can use the diagnosis to advocate for the right care and support for the person living with dementia.

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