The economic impacts of dementia on the Australian economy can no longer be ignored.
Advances in vaccinations and medicines during the last century have seen the average lifespan of an Australian increase by nearly 30 years. Hand-in-hand with our increased longevity is a rise in the number of Australians diagnosed with dementia.
Currently three in 10 Australians aged over 85 and one in 10 aged over 65 are living with dementia. This accounts for about 330,000 Australians with this number expected to rise to one million by 2050. Globally, 135 million people will be living with dementia in 2050 and the worldwide cost will be one per cent of global economic output.
Chairman of the World Dementia Council, Dr Dennis Gillings, is currently visiting Australia to meet with ministers, officials and researchers in an attempt to reduce the barriers to investment in research so that a cure or disease-modifying therapy can be found by 2025.
Dr Gillings said that the economic impact of dementia in Australia was “increasing relentlessly” and that the cost, which is already $5 billion annually, is expected to grow by five per cent a year.
Dr Gillings said that if the onset of dementia could be delayed by five years, the growth in costs could be contained to an affordable level.
Dementia is a disease which is not only crippling to the victims and their loved ones, but also to the Australian economy. With one in 10 Australians aged over 65 now being affected by dementia, this is a disease we can no longer ignore.
Dementia, like most diseases, isn’t kind to the victim or their family. I watched first hand as my grandfather, in his late 80s, had his dignity taken from him as his mind slowly faded away. It’s not how you want to remember a person and it’s certainly not how they would want to end such a wonderful life.
There have been great leaps forward in research surrounding dementia and understanding how and why it affects its victims, but developing drugs for dementia is seen as a high risk and low reward return for pharmaceutical companies, so research into finding a cure doesn’t receive as much funding as it deserves.
Australia is leading the way in providing funding for dementia research with $200 million committed by the current Federal Government signalling to other economic powers that dementia research is a cause worth funding, for the economic future of our nations, and improved later lives for our citizens
Has someone you know been affected by dementia? Do you think more should be done to fast-track dementia research? Would you donate to dementia research if you knew how?