Medicines and dementia a key issue


sad senior woman dementia

Alzheimer’s Australia and NPS MedicineWise have launched a campaign to educate and empower people living with a diagnosis of dementia—and the people involved in their care—about their rights when it comes to treatment options associated with dementia.

Focusing specifically on medicines and dementia, the consumer awareness campaign will support people with dementia and their carers to make decisions with their health care providers and to communicate their wishes while they are able to.

Alzheimer’s Australia National CEO Carol Bennett says the issues around medicines and dementia is something consumers have identified as a priority area.

“This partnership, under the direction of people living with dementia and their carers, is working to empower consumers to make informed decisions which will result in improved quality of life and appropriate dementia care,” says Bennett.

“We know that people with dementia have identified the need for more information on medicines.

“The new resources will help people make decisions about a care plan, gain a better understanding of their rights around consent and how to discuss and document their choices and ultimately improve the quality of life of the 353,800 people currently living with dementia in Australia.”

NPS MedicineWise CEO Dr Lynn Weekes says that it can be difficult to find reliable, evidence-based information to help people make decisions when it comes to medicines or other treatments for symptoms associated with dementia.

“People with dementia can be at particular risk of problems with medicines for a number of different reasons,” says Dr Weekes.

“They may take multiple medicines due to other health conditions, increasing the risk of medicine-related side effects, or they may experience problems with memory and communication, making it difficult to remember what their doctor or pharmacist told them about their medicines, what the medicines are for, or when to take them.

“As dementia progresses, changes in a person’s behaviour are often caused by unmet needs that might be due to their health, the environment, or difficulty verbalising pain, and there are a number of medicine and non-medicine therapies available to manage these associated expressions of distress.

“Our campaign is all about empowering people with a diagnosis of dementia to work with the people and health professionals involved in their care to discuss and document their choices and management options in relation to navigating the symptoms of dementia,” she says.

Alzheimer’s Australia National Ambassador Ita Buttrose says that with more than 353,800 Australians living with dementia, the campaign has the potential to improve the health care of many people.

“The new campaign and resources from Alzheimer’s Australia and NPS MedicineWise will help educate people about their rights when it comes to treatments they may receive, which is a very positive thing. These fact sheets and booklets will provide some certainty, and help people know what and how to plan for the future and where to go to find the information and support they need.”

Key elements of the new campaign include:

 

  • A downloadable, printable information booklet containing information to empower people with a diagnosis of dementia and the people and health professionals involved in their care. The booklet covers issues around consent, appropriate use of medicines, and non-medicine therapies including psychosocial approaches to expressions of distress.
  • Downloadable, printable fact sheets on strategies to address distress, other conditions that commonly occur alongside dementia, and tips for good medicine management.
  • Consumer stories told via video and sharable on social media.
  • Health professional communication.

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