THE various forms of dementia are a darkening and expanding cloud over the Western world.
Many people of a certain age, especially those with a family history of Alzheimer’s or one of the other slow, debilitating, destructive, and irreversible diseases of growing old, worry that they may end up in a nursing home dependent on the kindness of strangers — often poorly paid strangers overwhelmed by pretty long hours and high patient numbers.
It is not an exaggeration to say that some people regard the prospect of ending their days in a nursing home with almost the same level of dread they view the affliction that might force them to leave their homes.
In that context, it seems that we have a simple enough choice: We either insist on ever higher standards in nursing homes or we review the supports we offer families who wish, and are able to, mind a person suffering from one form or other of dementia.
One of those choices, though more challenging, takes a lot of the dread and fear out of the equation.
Therefore, it is disheartening that the Alzheimer Society can report that funding for dementia-related home care packages fell by €11m over four years up to 2015, just as nursing home care investment rose by €84m.
This 8:1 funding ratio seems at least imbalanced and maybe it should be reviewed. There are, after all, many families happy to offer home care if they were supported in even minimal ways.
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