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“Perhaps it is important here to remember that in a home for elderly persons residents do not live in our workplace, we work in their home.”

Sandra Bredell, the coordinator for elderly care at Badisa recently attended the Retirement Village Summit in Pretoria and reports here on the important trends to keep in mind when it comes to the care of elderly persons.

The three biggest plagues that constitute the bulk of the suffering experienced by the elderly include:
1. Loneliness;
2. Helplessness;
3. Boredom.

Therefore the focus of service delivery should always be on addressing these three concepts. It is recommended that elderly persons should continue to live in a residence of their choice as far as possible which connects them to their home.

Important trends to keep in mind:
• Poverty and the rising high costs of care;
• Political instability and the weakening economy;
• The Baby Boomers generation who most likely would prefer being cared for at home.

Dementia care in South Africa

Compared to other developed countries, South Africa is behind in so many ways and much greater awareness is needed about this illness. It is estimated that 66% of persons suffering from Dementia-related illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s, come from a lower income level and compared to the high cost of care, other alternatives to institutionalised care should be looked at.

A National Dementia Plan for South Africa is needed where the focus should be on a dementia-friendly community where the focus remains on keeping the person with Dementia in the community as long as possible. Most facilities for the elderly were built 20 years ago and are not really appropriate for people living with Dementia. People also suffer because of the way they are treated. Family support and a pet-friendly environment are encouraged.

Healthy ageing and community-based care in a model where the government is supported in rending an appropriate service in the community is preferred. Activities should focus on sensory stimulation, including walking, touching, hearing, tasting, etc.
It is important not to create a “pseudo”-life or complicate service delivery but to keep the environment as homely as possible.

For more information about elderly care please contact Sandra Bredell at sbredell@badisa.org.za