Pollies’ focus on dementia seeks to build understanding

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An estimated 425,416 Australians are living with dementia, according to Dementia Australia.  Without a medical breakthrough, that number is expected to jump to 536,164 by 2025 and to 1.1 million by 2056.

While the medical symptoms are well known and the latest research regularly reported, it is another side-effect – isolation – that is the focus of a Dementia Australia campaign.

Federal Government spending on dementia research is about $60 million per year, but it’s a call from Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt that is grabbing the headlines. He wants politicians across Australia to join Dementia Friends, a social movement aiming to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about dementia.

“I am challenging all parliamentarians – federal, state and territory – to sign up as a Dementia Friend today, to demonstrate support for the 425,000 Australians living with dementia and their families and carers,” he said while explaining that the Government had funded the program as part of a $3.9 million national Dementia-Friendly Communities project.

Mr Wyatt’s hope is that by joining the program, more people will better understand the condition and how it affects the lives of so many people, and dementia sufferers will feel more involved in community life.

Dementia Australia has built on Dementia Friends programs in place in the United Kingdom, other parts of Europe, the US and Canada in developing the Australian version.

Internationally, dementia affects almost 50 million people and, according to Dementia Australia, that will rise to 131.5 million by 2050. The total estimated worldwide cost of dementia in 2015 was $1.03 trillion. To put that in perspective, if dementia were a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy.

Stats aside, it is community understanding of the disease and involvement that is a key aim of the Dementia Friend program.

Dementia Australia chief executive Maree McCabe said the program was an exciting opportunity for community engagement.

“By taking 15 minutes to sign up to be a Dementia Friend, you will open the doors to a program that will empower people who live with dementia to remain in their community with the respect and dignity they deserve,” she said.

“We now know from research that 70 per cent of people living with dementia are living in our communities, yet the majority feel a profound sense of isolation and lack of purpose due to the lack of awareness of dementia.”

Dementia Friends is a free online education program that provides access to resources to increase awareness and knowledge of dementia.

Do you know someone with dementia? Do they struggle because of a lack of involvement in the community?

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Written by Janelle Ward

2 Comments

Total Comments: 2
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    I am a carer for my husband who has dementia. In the academic world, there is evidence aplenty and at that level a will to have dementia friendly communities. However, currently on the ground, there are so many things that make the experience more difficult than it needs to be because in many cases there is no real dementia friendly communities. Why? Over stressed hospitals, ambos, with little understanding of the realities faced by those afflicted in terms of the practical aspects of life, like getting into the facilites for hearing aids, and medical visits, just for starters. I watched as a very elderly gentleman and his daughter tried to do their business about a blocked credit card in the main lobby of our bank. Surely to goodness if there was ever a time for privacy it would be when these kinds of problems pop up. Anything that involves an appointment, can become a nightmare unless there are provisions to help a carer and their caree get into the building.
    That is just for starters!!

  2. Profile Photo
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    Cares and people living with dementia need ongoing support from all walks of l life and can often be living on their own . Neighbours must come on board and check on these people.as our block of units did for a lady who was just getting dementia and just passed away


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