iv. Impact of Dementia
The aim of this content focus area is to provide an overview of the impact of
dementia from the perspective of persons with a diagnosis of dementia and their
family or carers.
By the end of the content focus area the participant will have an awareness of
the importance of understanding dementia from the perspective of persons with a
diagnosis of dementia and their family or carers.
Impact of Dementia
Dementia can be considered as a medical condition and presents with a range of signs and
symptoms, some of which include:
- memory loss
- language difficulties
- difficulty with understanding
- changes in mood, behaviour or personality
- hallucinations or delusions
- wandering behaviours .
Defining the impact of dementia using this framework is considered a "bio-medical"
approach to, or model of dementia care. More recently, understanding about dementia
from a social perspective has been emphasised [2 and 3]. An aspect of dementia which
is important to consider when working within the "social model" of dementia, is the
person's biography and their descriptions of the impact of dementia on their day-to-day
Objective signs or symptoms of dementia can be assessed and measured. However, to ensure the
needs of a person with dementia and his/ her carer are met, healthcare professionals
need to understand what impact dementia is having on their day-to-day lives.
References and Resources
Alzheimer's Australia 2007b, Beginning the Conversation: Addressing dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, Canberra, http://www.alzheimers.org.au/common/files/NAT/20061101-ATSI-Begining-Conversation-IndigenousForumReport.pdf.
Access Economics 2006, Dementia Incidence and Prevalence among People who do not Speak English at Home, Access Economics in Association with Alzheimer's Australia, Canberra, http://www.alzheimers.org.au/common/files/NAT/20061124_Nat_AE_FullDemPrevAustDoNotSpkEngHome.pdf.
Journey of No Return 2006, Four Corners, ABC, 30/10/2006, http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2006/s1774375.htm.
Activity 5: Reflections on the Experiences of a Person with Dementia and a Carer
1. How does it feel to have dementia? Please watch and listen to one man's story.
2. What are the challenges of caring for someone with dementia? Please watch and listen to Ken and Joan's story.
The purpose of watching and listening to these two stories from both a person with dementia and a carer is to
understand dementia from the alternative perspective to the medical model of care in
After watching and listening to these stories consider the questions below to gain an
understanding about the impact of dementia on individuals and their carers.
Question 1: List the medical needs you can identify from hearing
these two stories
a) The person with dementia
a) The carer
Question 2: List the social needs you can identify from
hearing these two stories
a) The person with dementia
a) The carer
Resources:  and 
Activity 6: Reflections on Own Experiences to Understand Dementia from the Perspective of
the Person with Dementia and His/ Her Carer
Consider another experience, from your clinical practice, a personal experience, a
film you have a seen, or a book you have read, which involved caring for somebody
Write a summary of this experience and reflect on the important issues about this
experience using the prompts below:
- Was the person representative of the national and global trends and patterns?
- Use of health care services?
- Socio-economic group?
- Was the dementia diagnosed?
- What type of dementia did the person have?
- What were the distinguishing pathophysiological features of this dementia?
- Did the person have special needs because of their association with a group
who's needs are not met by mainstream services?
- What were these needs?
- How could these needs be better met?
- What was the person's experience of this dementia?
- How did they feel?
- What were the family's reactions?
- What were the significant aspects of the dementia impacting on the individual?
Commentary on Responses to Activities 5 and 6
By reviewing the content of the video clips and reflecting on your own experiences, you
have had the opportunity to gain some insights into the experience of dementia
from the perspective of a person with dementia and his/ her carer.
This is very important work to do when planning care for persons with dementia and
their carers. Without these considerations we have a tendency to focus on the medical
signs and symptoms of dementia and limit our therapeutic interventions to
pharmacological treatments. By including consideration of the social impact of
dementia we broaden our professional view about what dementia is and we can develop a
range of other therapeutic strategies which will enhance the quality of life for a
person with dementia and his/ her carer.