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Dementia hospitalisations down by a quarter: report

New data released today shows the rates of hospitalisations due to dementia have declined by almost a quarter over the last decade.

In one of two reports released, The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found that in the decade 2006–7 to 2016–17 the rate of hospitalisations decreased 23 per cent from 408 to 313 per 100,000 population.

Dementia is still the leading cause of death for Australians and the AIHW report, Hospital care for people with dementia 2016-17, found that in the year 2016–17 there were 94,800 hospitalisations of people who had at least one diagnosis of dementia.

About nine in 10 (92 per cent) of these admissions involved an overnight stay and the average length of stay was 13 days.

Most of these admissions ended with the patient returning home (one in two) or going to residential care (one in five) but six per cent of the admissions died in hospital.

The second report, Dispensing patterns for anti-dementia medications 2016-17, found that the total expenditure on dementia medications each year is $20 million. Government expenditure comprised 80 per cent of the total, with an average government subsidy of $29.11 per prescription and an average cost to people with dementia of $7.35 per prescription.

Dementia Australia chief executive Maree McCabe said the AIHW reports reinforce that more needs to be done to provide quality care for people living with dementia.

“With the number of people living with dementia expected to increase to an estimated 1.1 million by 2058, this data reinforces for us that we must act now to improve medication management and support for people living with dementia in hospital environments,” McCabe said.

Dementia Australia has written two reports of its own to coincide with the AIHW findings, both analysing key features of the AIHW data.

Medication use by people living with dementia and Hospital stays for people with dementia included recommendations for best practice and, according to McCabe, focuses on providing for the best quality of life at every stage of dementia.

“The use of anti-psychotic medications in the majority of instances is contrary to achieving these outcomes.

“There are many non-pharmacological interventions that must be considered as first line options when some of the challenging symptoms of dementia may present.

“It is only through a collaborative approach to dementia care in hospitals, which centres on the involvement of people living with dementia, their families and carers, that we can ensure quality of life and limit unnecessary and dangerous situations,” McCabe said.

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