Rising dementia rates call for national funding
DEMENTIA is the second leading cause of death of Australians. This year around 1,713 Coffs Harbour residents are suffering with dementia, and this number will soar to an estimated 3,851 by 2050.
Overall, the number of people with dementia in Australia has reached 400,000 with an estimated cost of more than $14 billion this year alone, according to a report commissioned by Alzheimer's Australia.
The report found that if nothing is done to reduce the prevalence of dementia, the cost could reach a startling $18 billion in the next eight years.
It was found, however, that just a 5% reduction in dementia cases over the age of 65 could lead to savings of over $5.7 billion in the same time frame.
Direct costs include hospitalisation, GPs, medical specialists, care, pharmaceuticals and transport. Indirect costs occur through the lost productivity of both people with dementia and carers.
Alzheimer's Australia NSW CEO, John Watkins, said the figures were a big wake-up call and have renewed the call for a funded National Dementia Strategy.
"It is already the second leading cause of death in Australia and we know that the impact is far reaching.
"We still do not have a fully-funded national strategy to provide better care and outcomes for people who are living with dementia now, nor are we taking risk reduction seriously in order to try to reduce the numbers of people living with dementia in the future."
In a 2017-18 pre-budget submission, Alzheimer's Australia has called for funding for a staged approach to implementing a national strategy. This includes funding for a better risk reduction program to raise awareness of brain health, a program to improve aged care services, and improved access to respite care.
According to Alzheimer's Australia, dementia is a collection of symptoms caused by brain disorders which affect thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks.
Early signs of dementia include memory loss, confusion, personality change, apathy and withdrawal.
If you have any questions about dementia, call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.