Dementia figures support the need for creating a Dementia-Friendly Nation

4 September 2014

Western Sydney and coastal regions will be the areas in NSW most heavily impacted by dementia growth rates, dementia prevalence rates show.

The figures, prepared for Alzheimer’s Australia NSW by Deloitte Access Economics, predict a big growth over the next 40 years in the number of people with dementia in NSW from an estimated 109,000 people in 2014 to 272,000 by 2050.

While there is expected to be growth in dementia prevalence rates in every single electorate, the highest impact will be in the state electorates of Camden, Macquarie Fields, Strathfield, Liverpool and Tweed. Campbelltown, The Entrance, Bega, Wyong and Port Macquarie make up the rest of the top ten state electorates in terms of dementia prevalence expected in 2050.

Lynne Pezzullo from Deloitte Access Economics said: “Our projections show that overall, the number of people with dementia will increase by around two and a half times in NSW by 2050.

“This represents a significant economic and social challenge for the health and aged care sector and will continue to impact on the quality of life of people with dementia, their families, carers, and communities.”

Professor Henry Brodaty, the co-director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing and Medical Advisor to Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, said these figures back up earlier research that shows most Australians are likely to be impacted by dementia, if not by developing it themselves, then by caring for a family member or close friend.

“More than one in eight Australians alive today are likely to develop dementia between now and 2050 without new treatments or interventions,” Professor Brodaty said.

“We need to continue to invest in research to find ways to prevent or delay the onset of dementia, while ensuring we provide appropriate care, support and the best quality of life we can for those already living with the condition.”

Danielle White from Alzheimer’s Australia NSW said the figures support the need for communities to start looking at how they can become more dementia-friendly.

“These figures show just why it’s so important for us all to look at how we can create communities where people living with dementia are included, respected, valued and supported to maintain a good quality of life,” Ms White said.

“We all have a role to play in helping people with dementia to sustain their independence, dignity and sense of purpose in our communities. Small actions count and can make a big difference. Volunteering and employment opportunities for people with dementia, as well as businesses that have staff trained to be dementia aware, are just some of the ways that our communities can become dementia-friendly.

“There is also still a lot of misunderstanding about just what dementia is and how it impacts on people with a diagnosis and their families and carers, and there is a lot of fear of dementia in the community. People with dementia often experience social isolation following a diagnosis partly because of this lack of awareness of the condition.

“So just having a community that knows a little bit more about dementia and a bit more of an understanding of how a diagnosis of dementia can impact people can really go a long way in helping people with dementia feel less isolated and stigmatised and continue to be an active member of their community.”