Media Releases

Saturday 18 April 2015

The Federal and State Governments, business and the community can all help curb the soaring numbers of people expected to be diagnosed with dementia over the next decade, but not without new and significant investment.

Alzheimer’s Australia welcomes the announcement from Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Scott Morrison and Assistant Minister, Senator the Hon. Mitch Fifield of their commitment to inject $34 million worth of new grant funding into Australia’s aged care sector, including dementia care.

Two projects funded under this program include national dementia-specific programs that aim to provide flexible respite services to dementia carers and to train GPs and practice nurses in the timely diagnosis of dementia.

Alzheimer’s Australia is concerned that more than half of the Australian population is inactive, according to a paper released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), which increases their risk of developing dementia.

Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Carol Bennett said: “Research has found that around 13% (or approximately 4 million) of Alzheimer’s disease cases worldwide are attributable to physical inactivity.” 

“If a quarter of inactive people became more active, this could prevent nearly 1 million cases of Alzheimer’s disease worldwide.”

Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is the second leading cause of death in Australians aged 85 years and above and the fifth leading cause of death in Australians aged 65-84 years, according to figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The figures, based on data from 2012, suggests that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are the second leading cause of death in women and the fourth leading cause of death in men.

Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is calling on General Practitioners and other health professionals to actively support people living with dementia through the challenges associated with driving.

With a rapidly ageing population, a widespread conversation about the largely unspoken issues associated with sex and ageing is long overdue.

“The concept of an older couple in their 80s or 90s holding hands or kissing one another on the cheek is considered to be a beautiful thing. In contrast, the concept of the same elderly couple having sex tends to make people feel uncomfortable. Where do these attitudes come from and why don’t we talk about them?” asks Maree McCabe, CEO Alzheimer’s Australia Vic.

Fifty consumers including people with dementia, their families and carers have today convened at a Consumer Summit at Parliament House in Canberra to voice their needs to politicians and to call for action on dementia-related issues.

One of the consumers who lives with younger onset dementia, Vicki Noonan, a wife, mother of two and former primary school teacher, raised the urgent need for expanded dementia-specific services, particularly for those with younger onset dementia.

“People need to understand that people with dementia have unique care needs, and this is even more important for people like me who live with dementia and are under the age of 65,” Ms Noonan said.

According to National President Alzheimer’s Australia, Graeme Samuel AC; “for decades, consumers have been calling for a program that provides individualised, proactive, person-centred support. This approach is particularly important for people with younger onset dementia, who in the past have been shuffled between the disability and aged care systems.”

Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Carol Bennett said today that she hopes the release of the film ‘Still Alice’ will lead to greater awareness of the enormous dementia challenge facing the Australian community and particularly those experiencing younger-onset dementia.