As the condition progresses, dementia leads to complete dependence on other people for activities such as transport, shopping, cleaning, cooking, eating and washing. Most dementia sufferers who require care gain assistance from a combination of formal and non-formal sources. Formal assistance relates to carers who are paid by the individual, by their family or by government funded financial assistance. Non-formal sources include the care provided free of charge by family, friends and neighbours. The cost of carers can therefore fall on the government, the sufferer, or their family and friends.
In 2009–10, the cost for the government of providing formal care was more than $3 billion.
If carers are family members or friends, they may be required to give up their employment and activities within the community to care for their loved one. This reduces productivity and can impact on the wider community.
Many people with advanced dementia will often require residential care. Depending on the individual’s ability to pay, the cost of this care will be met by government funding, or a combination of government and individual contributions. In 2009–10, more than 50 per cent of those living in residential care had some form of dementia.