Dementia support for you and your family

Find out about the support you can get for you and your loved ones.

Dementia support

by Rosie Sandall |

One in three of us born in the UK today will go on to develop dementia in our lifetime, and there will be one million people living with the illness by 2025.

This is why it's so important to reach out and make use of all the support available for you and your loved ones.

We've compiled numerous support services and information so that you can find the right places to get the help you need.

Dementia support services

It’s important to get help and support after a diagnosis of dementia, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be in control of your life. Help is available so that you can remain as independent as possible and be fully involved in making decisions and choices. These include:

• Your GP

Dementia UK provides specialist dementia support for families through their Admiral Nurse service.

The Alzheimer’s Society offers a wealth of information on all aspects of caring for someone with dementia or living with dementia yourself. They offer a wide range of support services.

Age UK is a leading charity for older people, helping them know their rights as well as running campaigns and conducting research.

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Support for dementia carers

Every day, 6,000 people take on a new caring role. While some people become carers overnight when a partner or loved one has a stroke or accident, for many people, caring creeps up on them. Someone close may gradually need more care and thousands of partners and parents don’t recognise themselves as carers. They just carry on caring without the help and support they need.

Having the right information at the right time can make a big difference when you are looking after someone.

Carers UK

If you are new to caring, try Carers UK’s Upfront guide to caring. The online service will guide you to the help you need.

Carers UK helpline can give you a financial check to help you access benefits. You may be entitled to council tax reduction/support, help with protecting your pension and help with adapting your home.

Financial support

You may be eligible to Carer’s Allowance if you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for another person. Find out more with our guide to Carer's Allowance.

Most carers who are pension age will receive the state pension. While there is no upper age limit for claiming Carer’s Allowance, you can’t receive the full amount of carer’s allowance and the state pension at the same time.

This is because Carer’s allowance and the state pension are classed as “overlapping benefits.” Yours has campaigned for many years to get the ruling changed as we feel that carers have contributed all their working lives to the state pension so it is not a benefit.

If your state pension is less than Carer’s Allowance (less than £69.70 per week) you can claim the difference in Carer’s Allowance.

It is always worth claiming Carer’s Allowance because, although you may not receive the money, your underlying entitlement to the allowance may increase means-tested benefits.

woman and carer

What you can claim for:

The means-tested benefits for people of pension age are pension credit, support for mortgage interest, housing benefit and council tax reduction.

• Pension credit has two parts – guarantee pension credit and savings pension credit. You may qualify for the carer addition of £38.85 per week.

• If you have a mortgage, you may be able to get some help with mortgage interest payments through support for mortgage interest. This can be paid through guarantee pension credit award.

• Housing Benefit is to help people on low incomes with rent payments. If you receive guaranteed pension credit, you will get the maximum amount of council tax reduction. Contact your local council for advice.

If you are a carer of working age you may be able to claim other benefits in addition to (or instead of) carer’s allowance.

• If you, as a carer, or your partner are unable to work because of health conditions, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit which is gradually being introduced. Make sure the person you care for is getting benefits to which they are entitled.

Attendance Allowance is a benefit that helps with the extra costs of long-term illness or disability for people aged 65 or over. To claim Attendance Allowance call the helpline on 0800 731 0122 or visit www.carersuk.org Call the Carers UK adviceline on 0808 808 7777 for details of someone in your area who could help you fill in the form.

• People aged 16-64 with a long-term illness may be entitled to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

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Getting a carer’s assessment

Thousands of carers fail to claim any support for themselves because they feel that caring for a loved one is a duty.

But any carer who needs support should be offered an assessment by their local Social Services department.

Carers are entitled to an assessment of their needs, regardless of the type of care they provide, their financial situation, or the level of support they need.

Carers don’t have to live with the person they support and they may be juggling work and care which is having a big impact on their lives.

The assessment will usually be carried out at the carer’s home and it’s up to the carer whether the person they care for is present or not.

The assessment should include:

• Your caring role. How it affects your life and wellbeing and whether you are willing to carry on caring

• Your health – physical, mental and emotional issues

• Your feelings and choices about caring

• Planning for emergencies

If your council decides your caring role is having an impact on your life, they will draw up a plan to help you. You may be eligible for help – technology to support you, help in the home, help to relieve stress.

Services may be available to the person you care for which could make life easier for you as a carer. The person you care for could get a place at a day centre, have alterations at home to make life easier and get replacement care so you could have a break.

Your council is likely to carry out a financial assessment to see whether or not you will have to pay for any services provided.

• You can get a carer’s assessment by contacting the local council adult social services department of the person you are looking after. You can get the number from your local government office.

• You can also get full details by calling the Carers UK helpline on 0808 808 7777 or visit www.carersuk.org

Join our Carers in Touch and Forget Me Not groups

Thousands of readers belong to our Carers in Touch and the Forget Me Not groups and many of them have made life-long friendships. Some members write to one another, others are in touch by email or phone. Some meet for coffee, some go on holiday.

The groups have been running for many years now and offer a lifeline to anyone who would like to make some new friends. Lists of new members are sent out to existing members every two months along with a newsletter including letters, information and poems.

Free to join, simply write to: Rosie Sandall, Yours, Media House, Lynchwood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA.

You can also email: rosemary.sandall@bauermedia.co.uk

Please include your full name and address (and email if you have one), a few personal details about your situation, family, interests and a contact telephone number and Rosie will be in touch soon.

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