Dementia - the chronic disease of the 21st century

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Media Release

Thursday 31 March 2016

Dementia - the chronic disease of the 21st century

Alzheimer’s Australia welcomes the Federal Government’s plan to implement the new “Health Care Home” primary care package which will better co-ordinate and manage the care of people with chronic disease and complex conditions but is deeply concerned that dementia has not been mentioned in the list of the most prominent chronic conditions.

Alzheimer’s Australia National President Professor Graeme Samuel AC said we need to ensure dementia is a priority in this promising new healthcare package which has the potential to revolutionise the way we care for our most chronically ill Australians.

“Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia, it is the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians1 and the third leading cause of disability burden over all2. It is critical this group of people and their families are not overlooked,” Professor Samuel said.

Dementia Australia’s recent submission to the Primary Health Care Advisory Group (PHCAG): Better outcomes for people with chronic and complex health conditions through primary care urged the PHCAG to include consideration of dementia in any strategies that are developed to better manage chronic conditions in the primary health care setting.

Alzheimer’s Australia National CEO Carol Bennett said dementia has an enormous impact on the health and aged care system, with the cost of dementia to these sectors calculated to be at least $4.9 billion per annum3, not to mention the profound social impact dementia has.

“Primary health care professionals have a critical role to play in timely diagnosis and treatment of dementia, and primary health care must be a key part of the national strategy for dementia. Supporting primary health care professionals, particularly GPs and primary health care nurses, to deliver timely diagnosis and effective referral and ongoing care is a sustainable and cost-effective way of improving the care for people with dementia and their carers,” Ms Bennett said.

“Alzheimer’s Australia welcomes this significant investment in Australia’s health, but dementia is a National Health Priority and of all the chronic conditions, the significant dementia challenge needs to be front and centre to ensure the growing number of 353,800 Australians living with dementia can receive the best possible care our health system has to offer,” Ms Bennett concluded.

1 Access Economics (2009) Keeping Dementia Front of Mind: Incidence and prevalence 2009-2050. Report for Alzheimer’s Australia

2 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2012) Dementia in Australia

3 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2012) Dementia in Australia.


Media enquiries:

Bianca Armytage | 0407 019 430 | [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

Media resources and additional information: