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Dementia in Australia report: key findings

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) launched Dementia In Australia – its first comprehensive report on dementia since 2012 – during Dementia Action Week.

The report sets out the latest known data from a range of sources on key aspects of dementia: population health impacts (prevalence, incidence, burden of disease and deaths), carers and care needs of people with dementia, health and aged care service use by people with dementia, and direct expenditure in relation to dementia.

A headline finding is that the number of Australians with dementia is predicted to more than double by 2058 – from 386,200 in 2021 to 849,300 in 2058 (533,800 women and 315,500 men).

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Over 27,800 Australians aged under 65 are living with younger onset dementia.
  • Dementia was the second leading cause of death in Australia, behind coronary heart disease, and the leading cause of death among women in 2019.
  • Dementia was the fifth leading cause of death among Indigenous Australians aged 65 and over in 2019.
  • Dementia was the third leading cause of burden of disease in Australia in 2018, behind coronary heart disease and back pain.
  • In 2019-20, just under 132,000 (54%) of the 244,000 people living in permanent residential aged care had dementia.
  • $3 billion of the total direct health and aged care system expenditure in 2018-19 was directly attributable to the diagnosis, treatment and care of people with dementia.
  • It is estimated that between 134,900 and 337,200 people provide consistent unpaid care for someone with dementia.
  • Over half of primary carers provide an average of 60 or more hours of unpaid care each week.

The report was launched at an online event by Senator Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services. Senator Colbeck said the report validated the prominence of dementia care in the Government’s aged care reform plan. He commended the use of case studies within the report, which includes the personal stories of five people with a lived experience of dementia.

Dementia Australia Chief Executive Officer Maree McCabe AM welcomed the report and ongoing work by the AIHW to improve data about dementia.

“Better data about the experiences of Australians living with dementia and the people who care for them are essential and these can be used to improve policies and support services for those who need them most,” Ms McCabe said.

The report includes explanatory notes on key ‘Dementia data gaps’.

The full detailed report is available as an ‘online compendium’ and a summary report version is available to download at https://bit.ly/39oZBBu

New National Centre for Monitoring Dementia

A new National Centre for Monitoring Dementia is to be established within the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), to routinely monitor dementia care in Australia.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator Richard Colbeck, used the launch of the latest AIHW report, Dementia In Australia (see main article), to announce that the Australian Government is providing $13 million in funding to the AIHW to establish the new centre. The funding is drawn from the May 2021 Federal Budget commitment of $229.4 million to improve quality of life and care for people living with dementia.

The Government says the centre’s work will help address critical gaps to support national dementia policy and service provision.

Sen Richard Colbeck
Maree McCabe

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