Funding for care for people with early onset dementia

Summary

Early onset dementia can be financially devastating to families, who cannot always pay costs involved with care

500 waiting for subsidies

The government of Flanders has announced new support for people with early onset dementia, releasing more than €3 million to help ease the financial impact of the disease. The aim is to make sure that affordable residential care is available, reducing the risk that the disease will push families into poverty.

It is estimated that 1,800 people in Flanders under the age of 65 have a form of dementia. Care and support for them has grown in recent years, but some families still experience financial difficulties at the point when the person with dementia has to go into residential care.

The additional financial burden of paying for care may coincide with a sudden fall in income, causing problems with mortgage repayments or supporting children’s education. These are responsibilities that older people with dementia have generally put behind them.

“The financial accessibility of residential care for this specific target group must be safeguarded,” said Flemish health minister Jo Vandeurzen, announcing the new funding. “Admission to an affordable, specialised residential care home can prevent the family from becoming impoverished by the illness and the care it demands.”

More staff, lower costs

The money will be spent in two ways. First, it will provide additional staff and operating resources for residential care centres that specialise in early onset dementia, ensuring an even distribution of places across Flanders. Secondly, there will be an annual subsidy for such specialised centres, to be passed onto families in the form of reduced bills.

The move was welcomed by Peter Persyn, a member of the Flemish Parliament for N-VA, who has been campaigning on the issue. But it will not reach all the people affected by the disease, he said in a statement. “The extra resources are primarily intended for the 500 or so people who now need to be admitted to homes, but a structural solution must be found soon.”

Legislation is being drawn up to introduce the changes as soon as possible. Information about the residential care centres specialising in early onset dementia will be available through the Jong Dementie site, co-ordinated by Expertisecentrum Dementie Vlaanderen.

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