Alzheimer’s Australia has a simple request of the Gillard Government in 2012: make dementia a national health priority in this year’s Federal Budget in May by providing $500 million over five years to help address the dementia epidemic.
Dementia is the overarching term for a large group of illnesses which cause a progressive decline in a person’s brain functioning. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, with other forms including Vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.
Whatever form it takes, dementia will be the major health problem for Australia in the 21st century.
There are approximately 267,000 Australians living with some form of dementia and this is set to increase by almost 50% over the next ten years. By 2050, it is expected that 1 million Australians will have dementia with the number of new annual diagnoses more than double the total number of people with dementia in 2010. In the 50 years between 2000 and 2050, Australia’s population is anticipated to increase by 40% but the number of people with dementia is also expected to rise by 327%.
It also costs the health system $6.6 billion each year and is set to become the third largest driver of costs in the health and residential aged care sector.
Dementia can happen to anyone at any time. It is not a ‘normal’ disease of ageing but it is much more common in people over 65 years.
But beyond the facts and figures, there is the devastating human tragedy for individuals and their loved ones affected by dementia – and the fightdementia.org.au website has touching and graphic illustrations of just a small number of these people.
So what can we do about it?
Alzheimer’s Australia is asking each of us to become a ‘Dementia Champion’ by joining their campaign asking the Gillard Government for $500 million over five years.
As well as contributing to a pool of research around the world which might one day find a preventive measure or even a cure for dementia, the funding will also provide services and support for people with dementia and their carers. This includes:
- strategies to reduce the stigma and social isolation that comes from a dementia diagnosis
- support for doctors and nurses with professional education and training to help them identify dementia more quickly
- quality of care measures to assist people in the home, in residential aged care or in hospitals
- helping all of us to be more aware of, and take responsibility for, what we can do to reduce our own risk of dementia.
You can show your support by:
- Signing-up as a Dementia Champion at www.fightdementia.org.au or at http://facebook.com/fightdementia
- Writing to your Federal Member and Senator. A sample letter and a list of MPs and Senators is at www.fightdementia.org.au
- Keep the conversation going and request a meeting with your Federal Member or Senator. Let them know how dementia has touched your life and how strongly you feel about making dementia a national health priority.
If you want further information about dementia for yourself, or a loved one, or to discuss with your doctor, please visit www.alzheimers.org.au or call the Dementia Hotline on 1800 100 500.
In the meantime, help Alzheimer’s Australia make 2012 a year to remember and become a Dementia Champion at www.fightdementia.org.au