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Alzheimer’s Australia recently surveyed Australians to find out what people really think about dementia.
Working with Roy Morgan, a leading industry research agency, we aimed to learn more about the public’s beliefs regarding dementia, and to find out just how important this issue is in the context of the 2016 Federal election.
The results will be surprising to many - of more than 1000 people surveyed across Australia, two in three said that dementia had impacted on their life in some way, with many (over one third) having had a close family member diagnosed with the disease.
Those aged between 50 and 64 years old were more likely to have been impacted by dementia1, not surprisingly given that onset is correlated with age – although younger onset dementia can be experienced by people under 65 and even in their 20’s. 3
When asked if they believe a fully funded National Dementia Strategy should be a priority, nearly nine in ten of those surveyed supported the proposition, while only 2% opposed it. 50% of those surveyed strongly agreed, and not surprisingly people were more likely to support the proposition if they had been impacted and seen the effects of dementia.1
57% of those surveyed felt that dementia should be an election issue.
The survey also identified a high level of concern about the quality of aged care services available to older Australians. It is very concerning that only one in four people surveyed were confident that if they had to find an aged care facility for themselves or a family member with dementia, high quality services would be available where they were needed.
A major concern for people with dementia and their carers is the difficulty that consumers experience in judging the quality of an aged care service. The vast majority of Australians we surveyed – more than four in five people – want to see better information provided by Governments about the quality of life of residents in aged care facilities – information including quality reviews and ratings. And the majority of Australians, more than six in ten of those surveyed, say they would be prepared to pay more in taxes if it meant better quality aged care.
Our survey findings align with the recently released findings of the 2016 National Values Assessment, which asks respondents what values or behaviours they most want to see in their nation. This assessment found that care for the elderly was the number one issue identified as important by respondents: "Aussies demand a nation that values caring for its elderly above all… Yet it’s an issue that’s barely registering on the election debate agenda." 4
It’s clear that dementia has touched the majority of Australians in some way. Many of us have had a family member or close friend diagnosed with the disease, and a considerable number have been involved in the care and support of a person with dementia. Most Australians are concerned about the quality of care and support offered to people with dementia, and want to see a comprehensive national approach to tackling the disease.
They also want something done about the quality of care offered to older Australians – and let’s not forget that more than half of the residents in aged care facilities are people living with dementia.
Alzheimer’s Australia is calling for all parties and candidates standing in the July Federal election to state their commitment to implementing a comprehensive, funded National Dementia Strategy.
People with dementia and their carers, and indeed the community as a whole, deserve nothing less.
For more information:
1 Research conducted by Roy Morgan Research for Alzheimer’s Australia (May 2016)
2 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2012) Dementia in Australia
3 Alzheimer’s Australia Help sheets – What is Younger Onset Dementia?
4 Revealed Australians Value Care for the Elderly Housing Affordability and Accountability