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New dementia figures released, government action urged

New figures released today by Dementia Australia put the number of people estimated to be living with dementia in Australia at 459,000, an increase of around 116,00 since 2015.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing, in 2015 there were an estimated 342,800 people living with dementia in Australia, an increase of nearly 100,000 people since 2005 and dementia Australia estimates that by 2058, the number of people diagnosed with Dementia will be over one million.

Federal parliamentarians, government officials and dementia advocates will today convene with the Parliamentary Friends of Dementia to be presented with some practical solutions for transforming dementia care in Australia.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said that despite the ongoing royal commission, urgent action is needed now.

“For many people currently receiving care, waiting is not an option. We can take action now in readiness to ensure dementia care becomes core business for the aged care sector,” she said.

Dementia Australia’s 2020-21 Federal Pre-Budget Submission calls on the focus to be on solutions that can start paving the way to transforming dementia care.

It says these solutions should focus on Dementia Australia’s strategic priorities for 2018-2023 which include quality care, reducing discrimination and timely diagnosis and support.

“The prevalence of dementia in our community is growing exponentially – those impacted by dementia across Australia are seeking decisive action to ensure that the outcomes for people living with dementia, their families and carers are adequately considered in the context of more generalised health, disability and aged care reforms, with targeted, translatable action,” McCabe said.

“The funding investments outlined in Dementia Australia’s 2020-21 Federal Pre-Budget Submission will represent long term savings, not least through more effective use of health, disability and ageing services, fewer emergency interventions and a focus on continuous improvement.

“Investing in initiatives that define the pathway to diagnosis, develop mechanisms to embed quality dementia care and reduce the daily discrimination faced by people living with dementia is absolutely key to making dementia core business in Australia and truly making a difference to the lives of everyone who is impacted.”

Dementia Australia Dementia Advocate Bobby Redman will speak at the Parliament House event about the barriers she faced in receiving an initial dementia diagnosis.

“My diagnosis happened because my professional background as a practising psychologist gave me the knowledge and understanding that what I was experiencing was not normal, and the courage to question the GP,” Ms Redman said.

“People living with dementia need faster diagnosis in order to access early intervention – whether we are a person living with dementia or a family carer, we are all looking for ways to all live happier, healthier lifestyles as part of our own communities.

“We are counting on the change makers at the top to help us to develop ways to make this happen.”

Dementia Australia has also released The Dementia Guide, a comprehensive resource to support people living with dementia, their families and carers. The Guide can assist everyone to learn about dementia, treatments, and available support and services.

Phil Hazell, the Chair of the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee, said if The Dementia Guide had been around when he was diagnosed, it would have helped him better understand the disease and its impacts.

“I so wish I had this resource when I was diagnosed with younger onset dementia. It makes it easy to understand my dementia and live well.”

The Dementia Guide is available to download for free online, or to request a printed copy, go to dementia.org.au/resources/the-dementia-guide.

This is the second edition of the Dementia Guide, initially produced and distributed in 2016.

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