Sign up for our eNews and discover more about what we're up to, the difference we're making, and, most importantly, how you can help.
Wednesday 21 October 2015
Only 1 in 3 over 65 with dementia will be correctly diagnosed
As our population ages, and more of us survive the diseases of mid-life, it is likely that more of us will experience dementia.
The Framingham Study has found that for those of us who reach 65 without having developed dementia, the risk we have of developing dementia in our remaining lifespan is around 20% for women and 17% for men.1
So one out of every five of us who have reached late middle age can expect to develop dementia, yet only one in three of us who get dementia can expect to be correctly diagnosed. Without timely diagnosis, what chance do we have to access appropriate interventions and treatment?
These words came today from Alzheimer’s Australia National President, Professor Graeme Samuel speaking at the Austin Health Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service Annual Conference: “Early Diagnosis: Effect on Care & Outcomes”
Professor Samuel emphasised some important factors of early diagnosis:
- To ensure the opportunity to put an advance care plan in place for future medical treatment
- To appoint a power of attorney To ensure access to the latest, evidence-based interventions and treatments
- To set up good care and support in the community, to remain living at home for as long as possible
- To ensure future carers have access to education, support, and respite care to help them in their carer journey.
There are clear benefits to timely diagnosis yet the evidence shows that for those who are even diagnosed at all, the average time between first symptoms and diagnosis is just over three years.2
“As a consequence, many people with dementia and their families in Australia slip through the gaps and miss out on crucial opportunities for early intervention and the opportunity to fully understand their own condition. This is a tragedy, and what’s more it is largely avoidable.” Professor Samuel said.
Alzheimer’s Australia believes that to begin to address this problem, we need targeted information and education on dementia, its warning signs, and its assessment both for health professionals and for the general community to encourage timely diagnosis. We have some foundations to build on, with the experience of the Alzheimer’s Australia Detect Early program and other initiatives.
“Dementia is one of the major chronic diseases of this century. Our nation needs a holistic plan to tackle dementia over the next decade and more, with a focus on timely diagnosis, as a fundamental element in improving quality of care, and supporting people to live well in the community for longer.” Professor Samuel concluded.
1 Sehadri S, Belser A, Kelly-Hayes M, Kase CS, Au R, Kannel WB et al, The lifetime risk of stroke: Estimates from the Framingham Study. Stroke, 2006; 37 (2):345-50; cited in Alzheimer’s Association (USA) 2013 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures p 19. www.alz.org/downloads/facts_figures_2013.pdf
2 Speechly,C. (2008). The pathway to dementia diagnosis. Medical Journal of Australia, 189, 487-9
Media resources and additional information
More media releases
Dementia peak body welcomes Royal Commission extension and additional home care packages
Dementia Australia has welcomed an extension of three and a half months to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and a further 6,100 home care packages announced by the federal government.
Australian research fellowship fuelled by Sir Jackie Stewart OBE to kick dementia research in to gear
Wednesday 8 July 2020 Racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart OBE’s Race Against Dementia charity and the Dementia Australia Research Foundation today announced the launch of a new Australian dementia research fellowship. The ‘Race Against Dementia – Dementia Australia Research Foundation Post-doctoral Fellowship’ programme will support two early career researchers in the field of dementia prevention or treatment.
Dementia peak body welcomes Serious Incident Response Scheme to protect senior Australians
Dementia Australia has welcomed the introduction of a Serious Incident Response Scheme by the federal government to protect vulnerable and senior Australians from abuse and neglect. Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said the scheme is an important step in helping to keep people living with dementia safe.