Dementia Care Aging Innovation

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The Challenges of Ageing

Michelle James

Assignment (Essay) 40%

The ageing of the world’s population is a global phenomenon increasing the demand for adequate health care services available to older people. It continues to challenge those who plan and manage the services for older people and even more importantly those who deliver the professional and clinical care within the system such as Nurses. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (2009) predicted that the number of older Australians, as a proportion of the total population, will double over the next 40 years and in addition to this the World Health Organisation (2006) estimated that there are 18 million people living with dementia, which is expected to double to 37 million by 2025.

Dementia is a general term indicating changes to cognitive function that result from a range of specific, usually progressive and irreversible disorders of the brain. The most common of these disorders is Alzheimer’s disease (50-70% of cases) (Alzheimer's Association 2007). The symptoms of dementia include loss of memory, confusion and problems with speech and understanding (Alzheimer's Association 2007).

Innovations in care for older people aim to demonstrate major shifts in the aged care workforce to improve the future supply and adaptability of the workers, therefore enhance and improve older peoples’ health outcomes and health services. This paper will address and discuss the issues and challenges involved with creating environments that enhance dementia care, a key innovation in care of older people.

‘Design of the physical environment is increasingly recognised as an important aid in the care of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. … Design is regarded as a therapeutic resource to promote well-being and functionality among people with dementia.’ Day, Carreon & Stump (2000)

According to Nay & Garrett (2009) the impact of the social and physical environments on older people who have dementia is critical to their care outcomes. An effective innovative concept aims at providing a physical environment for people with dementia in order to achieve their full potential and avoid causing disability.

Research and practice has and continues to gain a better understanding of dementia and design innovations in regards to specialised dementia care. This innovative notion of providing dementia friendly environments is emerging, with significant evidence that it has a positive impact on the lives of people with dementia (Nay & Garrett 2009).

The Alzheimer's Association (2007) supports this innovation, and acknowledges that the environment should support the functions of people with Alzheimer disease, accommodate behavioral changes, maximize abilities, promote safety and encourage independence. They acknowledge that care settings for people with dementia should provide positive, therapeutic stimuli.

Alzheimer's Association (2007) highlights that best practices in dementia care have been developing for close to two decades and during this period the physical environment has been considered a fundamental component of best practice. The physical environment in an aged care residential facility can become a challenge to people with dementia, however this innovation to design an environment to specifically meet the needs of people with dementia enables them to utilise their retained abilities with minimal frustration, and experience the highest possible quality of life (Alzheimer's Association 2007).

According to Nay & Garrett (2009) a dementia-friendly environment can be achieved through providing an appropriate physical, social and organisational environment. It is acknowledged that a home or home like physical environment is beneficial. The appropriate environment design for personally meaningful activities should be established as it aims to reinforce the individual’s identity and sense of autonomy in areas such as dining, grooming,...
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