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With dementia taking over as the biggest health issue for Australians aged 65 and over, Dementia Australia reinforces the need for an interconnected, dementia-informed healthcare system to ensure everyone impacted by dementia receives appropriate support and care throughout their experience of the disease.
In the latest update to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) compendium report Dementia in Australia, dementia has overtaken coronary heart disease as the leading cause of disease burden* among Australians aged 65 and over.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe AM said with more than 400,000 Australians living with dementia and the number expected to increase to over 800,000 by 2058, dementia is the chronic disease of the 21st century.
“It’s imperative that we have an informed system where staff working across healthcare industries have education in dementia and that all health and aged care workers and Australians know to contact Dementia Australia for support and information,” Ms McCabe said.
“Accessing Dementia Australia’s services is key to establishing this support network for people impacted by dementia.
“With dementia having so many touchpoints across the healthcare system, we must ensure the different parts of the system talk to each other.”
An integrated healthcare system that supports people living with dementia, their families and carers includes:
- A more consistent experience of diagnosis
- Access to post-diagnostic support services
- Access to supports across the trajectory of the disease that focus on maintaining the dignity and autonomy of the person impacted as well as their families and carers
- Access to palliative care services that meet the needs of people with dementia
The report shows dementia was responsible for 4.4% of Australia’s disease burden in 2022, which includes both the impact of living with the condition (the non-fatal burden of disease) and dying prematurely (fatal burden).
Ms McCabe said without a major medical breakthrough, this devastating trend is likely to continue, with the number of people living with dementia on the rise.
“While there is nothing definitive you can do to prevent dementia, there are many things you can do to help reduce your risk of developing dementia,” Ms McCabe said.
“These include looking after your brain health, body health and heart health and it’s never too early or too late to start.
“While we cannot change getting older, genetics or family history, scientific research suggests that changing certain health and lifestyle habits may make a big difference to reducing or delaying your risk of developing dementia.
"Please get in touch with the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 if you need information or support. It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year."
* Disease burden measures the impact of living with illness and injury and dying prematurely.
Dementia Australia is the source of trusted information, education and services for the more than 400,000 Australians living with dementia, and the more than 1.5 million people involved in their care. We advocate for positive change and support vital research. We are here to support people impacted by dementia, and to enable them to live as well as possible. No matter how you are impacted by dementia or who you are, we are here for you.
For support, please contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. An interpreter service is available. The National Dementia Helpline is funded by the Australian Government. People looking for information can also visit dementia.org.au
Media contacts: Gabrielle Prabhu, Media & Communications Manager, [email protected], 0447 253 583
When talking or writing about dementia please refer to Dementia-Friendly Language Guidelines.
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