About Dementia Care

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome (a collection of symptoms) caused by disorders impacting the brain. [1] It can affect thinking, behaviour, language, memory, personality, and the ability to perform everyday tasks. [2] Over time, a person with dementia may grow steadily more dependent on others [3] while brain changes can lead to expressions of agitation, anxiety, depressed mood, apathy, or aggression. [4] Changes in a person’s personality or behaviour might also stem from pain, stress, or frustration or fear of being unable to communicate needs. [5] As people with dementia have unique histories, experiences and needs, how these changes present will differ from person to person. [6]

Dementia in Australia

Dementia is a major health care issue in Australia with an estimated 487,000 people currently living with the condition. [7] It is also a terminal condition and a main cause of death for both men and women in Australia. [8] As the risk of dementia rises with age, the number of people affected by dementia is expected to increase as more Australians reach older age in the coming decades. [9] This is likely to place a significant burden on health and social care services while impacting on the lives of individuals, their friends, and families. [10]

Dementia in Aged Care

Aged care services are a critical resource for people with dementia and their carers. [6] Over half the people living in residential care are living with dementia. [9] Around 80% of them will be classed as having high care needs, especially in the areas of cognition, verbal and physical behaviours, and  activities of daily living such as mobility, continence, and nutrition. [9, 11]

A larger proportion of people with dementia (around 65%) are thought to be living at home where many are cared for by unpaid carers, often family members. [6] Some (14%) live alone. [9] Aged care can provide home support or home care services to help people continue living at home. This support ranges from help with shopping, cooking, and cleaning to assistance with self-care, property maintenance, transport, continence, home safety, assistive equipment and nursing and allied health services. [12] People in the community may also be eligible for short-term residential respite. [13]

1. World Health Organization. Dementia [Internet]. 2021 [updated 27 Jan 2021; cited 2021 Apr 21]. Available from:

2. Dementia Australia. What is dementia? [Internet]. Dementia Australia; 2020 [cited 2022 Mar 23]. Available from:

3. van der Geugten W, Goossensen A. Dignifying and undignifying aspects of care for people with dementia: a narrative review. Scand J Caring Sci. 2020;34(4):818-38.

4. Dementia Australia. Coping with behaviour changes [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2022 Apr 21]. Available from:

5. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. RACGP aged care clinical guide (Silver Book) [Internet]. East Melbourne, Vic.: RACGP; 2019 [cited 2022 Apr 21]. Available from:

6. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australia's health 2020 data insights [Internet]. Canberra, ACT: AIHW; 2020 [cited 2022 Apr 21]. Available from:

7. Dementia Australia. Dementia statistics [Internet]. 2022 [updated Jan 2022; cited 2022 Apr 21]. Available from:

8. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of death, Australia [Internet]. Canberra, ACT: ABS; 2021 [cited 2022 Apr 21]. Available from:

9. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Dementia in Australia [Internet]. Canberra, ACT: AIHW; 2021 [cited 2022 Apr 21]. Available from:

10. World Health Organization. Dementia: Key facts [Internet]. 2021 [updated 2 Sep 2021; cited 2022 Apr 22]. Available from:

11. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. People's care needs in aged care: GEN aged care data, factsheet 2019-20 [Internet]. Canberra, ACT: AIHW; 2021 [updated 22 Jun 2021; cited 2022 Apr 22]. Available from:

12. Australian Government. My Aged Care: Help at home [Internet]. n.d. [cited 2022 Apr 22]. Available from:

13. Australian Government. My Aged Care: Short-term care [Internet]. n.d. [cited 2022 Apr 22]. Available from: