De­men­tia fig­ures grow in age­ing pop­u­la­tion

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS -

Aus­tralia’s age­ing pop­u­la­tion is lead­ing to more peo­ple suf­fer­ing from de­men­tia, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port.

The re­port, led by the ARC Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence in Pop­u­la­tion Age­ing Re­search chief in­ves­ti­ga­tor Pro­fes­sor Kaarin An­stey, high­lights seven key mod­i­fi­able lifestyle fac­tors which are at­trib­uted to de­men­tia; the ris­ing num­bers of peo­ple with de­men­tia; and the in­creas­ing cost to fam­i­lies, car­ers, and the econ­omy.

De­men­tia is the lead­ing cause of dis­abil­ity among Aus­tralians over 65 and the second lead­ing cause of death in Aus­tralia.

In 2016, the di­rect costs alone of de­men­tia were al­most $9 bil­lion in Aus­tralia, with a pre­dicted increase to $12 bil­lion by 2025.

Prof An­stey said the crit­i­cal re­port high­lighted the preva­lence of de­men­tia in Aus­tralia and how our age­ing pop­u­la­tion trends would re­sult in greater num­bers of peo­ple with de­men­tia.

‘‘Aus­tralia’s age­ing pop­u­la­tion is lead­ing to an in­creas­ing num­ber of Aus­tralians with the dis­ease, which will fur­ther im­pact in­di­vid­u­als, so­ci­ety and the econ­omy over the next decade,’’ Prof An­stey said.

The re­port also found knowl­edge of the cause of de­men­tia in the se­nior com­mu­nity var­ied greatly, rais­ing the need for in-depth de­men­tia aware­ness work­shops and com­mu­nity in­volve­ment.

Prof An­stey es­ti­mated al­most 50 per cent of de­men­tia cases could be at­trib­uted to seven key mod­i­fi­able lifestyle fac­tors — midlife hyper­ten­sion, di­a­betes, low ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment, smok­ing, phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity, mid-life obe­sity and de­pres­sion.

The im­pact of de­men­tia goes far be­yond in­di­vid­ual health. The re­port noted there are di­rect, in­di­rect and in­tan­gi­ble costs of de­men­tia for the wider so­ci­ety and sig­nif­i­cant in­di­rect costs to Aus­tralia’s econ­omy.

For ex­am­ple, de­men­tia pa­tients and those who care for them of­ten have to with­draw from the work­force.

For some­one with mod­er­ate de­men­tia, the care hours are 17 per week on av­er­age, while se­vere cases in­volve hours sim­i­lar to a full-time job.

In 2016, the cost of fore­gone work hours was es­ti­mated to be $5.5 bil­lion.

More than 400 000 Aus­tralians are liv­ing with de­men­tia. These fig­ures have been re­vised up­ward from past pro­jec­tions.

Prof An­stey said more ac­cu­rate pro­jec­tions of de­men­tia rates out to 2030 were crit­i­cal to en­able government pol­icy makers and com­mu­nity ser­vices to bet­ter plan for the im­pact of cog­ni­tive de­cline in the fu­ture.

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