Why you should talk about dementia with your family this Christmas

Most family discussions on Christmas in New Zealand will be about how to eat the leftovers and what beach or river to swim in on Boxing Day.

But Dementia NZ is asking families to have what may be a harder conversation over the break this year.

Discussing with your family how to prepare for a loved one developing dementia now could save a world of pain in the future.

recent study found that there were around 70,000 people in Aotearoa living with some form of dementia. But as our population ages, that number is expected to increase to 170,000 by 2050.

The associated economic costs are projected to increase from $1.9 billion to $4.5 billion in that time.

Beyond the numbers, families who haven’t prepared for dementia can suffer tremendously when it hits.

“It’s not good for anyone involved; it can be extremely difficult,” Scott Arrol, CEO at Dementia NZ, told Newshub.

“Where a person with a neurological condition gets to the point that it can no longer make their own decisions and there’s nothing legal in place – say a Power of Attorney for someone else to make those decisions for them – then the legal and even clinical process is extremely difficult.

“It really becomes a worst-case scenario. You go into a court process where they need to have clinical assessments done by recognised clinicians who will make a determination about their cognitive abilities, all while they’re likely declining at quite a rapid rate and their professional caregivers may not be legally allowed to provide the care required.

“It’s very tough and I just can’t emphasise enough that no family should allow themselves to get into that position.”

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An uncomfortable conversation this summer could save a lot of heartache in the future. Photo credit: Getty Images

If you require advice over the Christmas break please contact us either email info@dementia.nz or leave a message by txt 021414681  and we will get back to you.

“If you want one-on-one assistance, look them up online in the local area will get a hold of Dementia NZ and we’ll put you in touch with your local people. It’s important to reach out.”

Article written by Newshub reporter Daniel Rutledge