17 April 2023

Dementia: home care or aged care home?

8 min read

Caring for a person living with dementia at home can be both rewarding and challenging. The role of caring can bring joy, personal growth, and a feeling of being close to family, friends, or other important people. However, it’s normal to feel stress, frustration, fatigue, grief and social isolation. Many carers also experience financial pressures, and guilt from feeling they aren’t able to do enough. 

Respite or full time care can allow you to have a break while someone else looks after the person you care for. There are different services available for respite and one is a residential aged care home, (formerly known as a nursing home). Staying in a residential aged care home allows you the peace of mind that your loved one will have 24hr nursing care that is person-centered in it’s approach at Estia Health. 

If you wish to place your loved one in full time care, you may be wondering what the difference is between home care and a nursing home.  

What is the difference between dementia care at home versus a residential aged care home (nursing home)?  

Making the decision between caring at home versus putting your loved one into care can be both difficult and stressful. Knowing about the services, government policies and costs of residential care beforehand can help you make the best decision, even if it has to be made quickly. We have a number of blogs to help assist you on these topics here.  

Where do you start?  

The first place to begin is with your doctor. He or she will help you to decide whether or not you can practically still continue to take care of your loved one at home with the resources you have. If you cannot, then they will advise you of the types of residential facilities available. From high care to low care to a memory support unit. If you can look after your loved one at home, then the support services available are listed in this article.  

Living at home:  

For seniors living with dementia, living at home is often ideal because it provides them with benefits like living comfortably within their surroundings, a higher level of trust in their caregivers and more personalised attention. In Home Care is also considerably less expensive than residential care. Additionally, seniors living with dementia may feel calmer, and as though they have a greater sense of control, less regimentation of their daily activities and routine which generally leads to feeling happier and more secure. This is beneficial to mental and physical health.  

However, caring at home can come at a very great cost to the caregiver. So, there are multiple avenues of support available.  
These support systems include:  

1. Counselling. Counsellors can provide advice and practical assistance to carers and people living with dementia  

2. Education. Learning more about dementia and how it impacts the person you care for – as a carer.  

Education programs can help you: 

  • cope with changes in behaviour
  • make your home dementia–friendly
  • understand and manage grief following a dementia diagnosis.

To learn more, visit  Dementia Australia

3. Webinars. Dementia Australia runs webinars for both carers and people living with dementia. 

Webinars cover topics like: 

  • understanding dementia
  • dealing with behavioural changes
  • learning effective communication methods
  • the process around moving into an aged care home. 


4. Carer Support Groups 

Carer support groups can offer you a safe place to talk about your role as a carer. They can put you in touch with other carers so you can share advice and tips to support each other. 

For information about support groups in your area, visit the Dementia Australia website or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500

5. It is important to understand how dementia can affect a person’s behaviour. Knowing what to expect can help you plan their care. 

Changes in behaviour can include: 

  • agitation or aggression
  • anxiety
  • apathy, or a lack of emotion
  • hallucinations
  • being up at night
  • personal care
  • wanting to leave
  • loss of inhibition. 


As a carer, these behaviour changes may upset you, but remember that they are not your fault. Often there are things you can do to help manage or reduce these symptoms. Visit the Dementia Support Australia website or call them on 1800 699 799 (24 hours a day). 

Changes in needs also occur including:  

  • communication needs
  • eating and nutrition needs
  • hygiene needs
  • continence
  • sleeping habits
  • memory abilities
  • oral and dental health. 


How do you know when a person who is living with dementia is ready for an aged care residence? 

1. Wandering 
2. Poor medication management 
3. Mobility issues 
4. Personality changes or difficult behaviors 
5. Weight loss 
6. Unsafe living conditions 
7. Caregiver stress or exhaustion 
8. Long-distance or inconsistent caregiving 

But how do you know if it’s the right time? This short video may help you to decide: 

Living with dementia in a residential aged care home:  

Aged care residences have qualified nurses on-site around the clock to provide medical care as needed. They also help people with personal care and support them to engage in physical activity. The residence will also be secure and have social opportunities that may not have been possible at home. Surrounded by their peers in the same age group, some residents find it nice to have people their age to talk to and engage in activities with. Reducing their feelings of isolation and depression.   

For many, the benefits of living in an aged care residence outweigh the negatives. Residential care allows elderly individuals to receive the care they need without making drastic changes to their everyday lives. 

At Estia Health, all of our homes offer a person-centered care approach, with most having a dedicated Memory Support Unit. If you are interested in any of our homes, you are welcome to call us and visit for a tour.