Urgent call for a national dementia strategy

Media Release

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Alzheimer’s Australia has called for a national dementia strategy, which includes investment in dementia risk reduction and prevention, and better approaches to treatment in primary care.

“We strongly believe that dementia is the most significant of the chronic diseases that will face our nation in the decades ahead, yet is the most under-diagnosed and the least well understood” Alzheimer’s Australia National President, Professor Graeme Samuel said.

Professor Samuel together with Alzheimer’s Australia CEO, Ms Carol Bennett, will address the Standing Committee on Health’s Inquiry into Chronic Disease Prevention and Management in Primary Health Care, calling for dementia to be included as a core component of the National Strategic Framework for Chronic Conditions.

Dementia is now the second leading cause of death in Australia1. There is already an estimated 342,8002 people living with dementia, which, without any major medical breakthroughs, is expected to increase to almost 900,000 by 2050. To answer the enormous challenge that dementia presents, at both a human level and a systems level, Australia urgently needs a national dementia strategy which should include:

  • Greater effort to promote awareness of the risk factors and prevention of dementia
  • Timely diagnosis so people can live successfully in the community for longer
  • Effective education and training for health care professionals
  • Improved carer support
  • Better access to ongoing support and treatment services for people living with dementia
  • Increased investment in dementia research

Ms Bennett said, “supporting and educating primary health care professionals is the most sustainable and cost-effective way of improving the journey for people with dementia and their carers, to ensure timely diagnosis, appropriate treatments and appropriate referrals to other services.”

A new discussion paper from Alzheimer’s Australia NSW has estimated that a 20 per cent reduction in cases of Alzheimer’s disease could save as much as $570 million by 2020 and up to $8.3 billion by 2050.

“As dementia represents such a significant burden of disease and shares common risk factors with other major chronic diseases of this century, our nation needs a holistic plan to tackle dementia comprehensively through risk reduction and prevention programs, better care and support for people in the community living with dementia, predominately through primary health care,” Ms Bennett said.

A full copy of the discussion paper, Reducing the Prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease: Modifiable Risk Factors or Social Determinates of Health, is available here.

 

1 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015) Causes of Death, Australia, 2013: Cat no. 3303.0
2 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2012) Dementia in Australia.


Media enquiries:

Bianca Armytage | 0407 019 430 | bianca.armytage@alzheimers.org.au


Alzheimer’s Australia is the charity for people with dementia and their families and carers. As the peak body, it provides advocacy, support services, education and information. More than 342,800 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than half a million by 2030.


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


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