International expert supports calls for urgent action on dementia

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Media Release

19 September 2016

International expert supports calls for urgent action on dementia

One of the world’s leading dementia experts starts a national speaking tour in Sydney today to support Alzheimer’s Australia in their call for a fully-funded, national strategy to tackle the growing challenge of dementia, which affects the lives of seven in 10 Australians.1

Dr Ronald Petersen is the Director of the US Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and was appointed by US President Barack Obama’s Administration to head up the Advisory Council for the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), which is an integrated national plan to overcome Alzheimer’s disease in the US by 2025.
Dr Ronald Petersen, who was also Ronald Reagan’s personal physician and treated the former President of America’s Alzheimer’s disease, said dementia is undoubtedly the biggest health and care challenge facing the world today.

“The NAPA, which is the first of its kind in the US, has enabled opportunities for significant advancements in our efforts to combat Alzheimer’s disease by focusing everyone in America’s attention to the challenges of dementia. It is a robust framework with measurable, publicly-reported outcomes that transcends the political cycle,” Dr Petersen said.

“It also resulted in a historic increase in federal funding for research from $450 million at the beginning of NAPA to $991million in 2016 to tackle Alzheimer’s disease, focusing on increasing and sustaining funding for research and supporting people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and their families. 

“The value of a national approach to addressing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease not only has the potential to create the same success that has been demonstrated in the fights against other diseases, such as influenza and pneumonia, it allows governments to assess whether the nation is meeting the challenges of the condition, for people living with dementia, their families, for communities as well as the nation’s economy.”
Alzheimer’s Australia National CEO Maree McCabe said with 353,800 Australians currently living with dementia and that figure expected to rise to more than 900,000 by 20502, drastic action was needed on dementia now.

“Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia3, the Federal Government has officially named it a National Health Priority, yet Australia still does not have a National Dementia Strategy to tackle this issue,” Ms McCabe said. 

“As a nation, we simply cannot ignore the impact this disease is having on the lives of Australians. There is both a social and economic imperative to take a more national, holistic approach, as has been done in other countries such as the US and the UK, so people affected by dementia can experience much better outcomes.” 

Alzheimer’s Australia has, for some time, been calling for a strategic, coordinated National Dementia Strategy with measurable outcomes based on the National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015-2019. The Framework identifies key areas for action but without funding and long term commitment little progress will be made in developing better supports for people with dementia. A National Dementia Strategy would focus on:

  • Increasing awareness to reduce stigma and social isolation associated with dementia
  • Risk reduction strategies which look to partner with other health promotion campaigns sharing common risk factors
  • Timely diagnosis, to connect people with dementia to the support and services they need sooner
  • A coordinated approach to post-diagnosis care and support
  • Initiatives to improve the quality of care for people with dementia
  • End-of-life care to support the choices of people with end-stage dementia
  • Investment in dementia research and support for consumer involvement in dementia research

Dr Petersen was also appointed to the World Dementia Council in 2014 by the then UK Prime Minister, David Cameron. The World Dementia Council unites leading experts from across the global dementia community to find solutions to the devastating condition. 

Dr Petersen will be conducting a national speaking tour from 19 - 23 September visiting Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide presenting on the latest insights and findings in dementia research, the importance of early diagnosis, as well as current diagnostic techniques, how the diagnosis is made, treatment options and future directions.

Dr Petersen’s Australian visit is part of Dementia Australia’s Dementia Awareness Month, held annually throughout September and supported by the Australian Government. 

This year’s Dementia Awareness Month theme is ‘You are not alone’. World Alzheimer’s Day in on Wednesday 21 September. 

Alzheimer’s Australia will host a number of events throughout the month. Visit for details of events near you. 

1 Roy Morgan Research (2016) Report for Alzheimer’s Australia
2 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2012) Dementia in Australia
3 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015) Causes of Death, Australia, 2013: Cat no. 3303.0 

Media enquiries:
Bianca Armytage | 0407 019 430 | [email protected]
Sarah Price | 0403 072 140[email protected]

Alzheimer’s Australia is the peak body representing people with dementia and their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. More than 353,800 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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