Decrease in UK dementia rates highlights need for Australian study

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18 July, 2013
Alzheimer’s Australia welcomes the release of a new British study from the Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Collaboration which suggests that the prevalence of dementia in the UK has decreased over the last 20 years from 8.3% of people aged 65 and over to 6.2%.

Glenn Rees, AM, CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia said “A reduction in the prevalence of dementia in the UK is welcome news. It is evidence to support the risk reduction measures we’ve been advocating for, but it also highlights the fact that we need better data on the prevalence of dementia in Australia.”

Alzheimer’s Australia uses the latest dementia prevalence estimates from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) that were released in the Dementia in Australia report in 2012.

“We know that the estimates do change. The projection for the number of people with dementia in 2050 recently was scaled back from over a million to 900,000.

“There is great uncertainty about the future. We don’t know how changes in lifestyle, diet, increasing rates of obesity, longer life expectancies and rates of other chronic diseases like diabetes will impact on the prevalence of dementia.

“There is an urgent need for a study in Australia to ensure we have accurate prevalence numbers now, so we can track changes that occur as these factors change.

“The UK study did not examine the cause of the change in prevalence but it has been suggested that changes in risk factors such as education or reduction in cardiovascular risk may be a factor.”

“This research is a powerful reminder that there are things that we can do to reduce our risk of developing dementia.

“This is a message Alzheimer’s Australia has been promoting for many years. Alzheimer’s Australia introduced one of the world’s first programs to promote brain health and we can be proud that Australia has the first nationally funded public health program to address brain health - Your Brain Matters.” Mr Rees continued.

“Even with small changes in prevalence rates we can expect to see a huge increase in the number of people who have dementia in Australia due to population ageing. There remains a very high priority for improved access to dementia care services for people of all ages.

“Dementia is the major chronic disease of this century.”

National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500
An interpreter service is available
(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)
Dementia is a National Health Priority Area