12,000 people in Tyrol suffer from dementia. In 2030 it could be 16,000. The reason for this increase is the ever-increasing life expectancy, explains Josef Marksteiner, head of the psychiatric department at the Hall Hospital: “Because age is the biggest risk factor for dementia.” Little exercise, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes can also increase the risk increase to dementia.
Early detection is crucial
Symptoms such as forgetfulness or memory problems should be taken seriously and clarified by your family doctor and then in the memory clinic. It doesn’t always have to be about dementia: “At the end of the day, the all-clear can also come,” says the primary.
Many patients would not go to the hospital if they had symptoms because they were afraid. Early detection is important, says Marksteiner: “You can slow down the progression of the disease. This can be done either with medication or with other established options. These include, for example, movement and music therapy or memory training. We try to use these forms of therapy at an early stage,” says Marksteiner.
An early affected person and his assistant tell the story
Norbert Wieser was diagnosed with Parkinson’s six years ago. The result was dementia. Since then, nothing in his life has been the same.
Tyrol has a comprehensive range of advice
Marksteiner is satisfied with the advice and support offered in Tyrol. In a comparison of the federal states you are ahead. In the city of Innsbruck, several organizations, from Caritas to the Tirol Kliniken and Volkshilfe, have joined forces to form the “Platform for a dementia-friendly city of Innsbruck”. The aim is to offer those affected suitable care and to better coordinate the existing offer.
The Caritas dementia service provider wants to give people a voice. The aim is to promote the self-determination of those with dementia, says the dementia assistant Petra Knoflach: “We want to convey to people: If you notice that I myself or my wife or my children are overwhelmed, that you then also dare to ask for help to fetch. You are not alone.”
Overloaded dementia wards
However, a problem is emerging on the dementia wards in old people’s homes and care facilities. The general shortage of nursing professionals is hitting these departments hard, says Josef Marksteiner: “No one is left without care. But there are longer waiting times for places in homes and therefore longer stays in hospitals. As a result, acute places cannot be filled. In addition, a lot of the burden is again shared among the relatives. Because there is no other way.”
According to Marksteiner, relatives need intensive support, training and legal advice in order to be able to master this situation. Caring for someone with dementia at home is very challenging.