Balancing the pressures of work and family life isn’t always easy. It becomes even more stressful when a close family member or parent needs care or support when diagnosed with an illness. Luckily, people living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s can lead an active and fulfilling life for many years after diagnosis.
With this in mind, we observe September as Dementia Awareness month, with Dementia Action Week taking place from 19 – 25 September and World Alzheimer’s Day on the 21st.
What exactly is dementia? It is a collection of symptoms caused by disorders affecting the brain and not necessarily a specific disease. It affects thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday tasks. Brain function is affected enough to interfere with the person’s daily life. This can result in extra pressure on family members to take over daily tasks such as personal care or social outings.
According to Dementia Australia, the illness impacts almost 500 000 Australians and nearly 1.6 million Australians are involved in their care. The number of people living with dementia is set to double in the next 25 years. The Dementia in Australia report, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), unveiled sobering statistics about the disease – it’s the second-leading cause of death in Australia.
“In 2018-19, $3 billion in health and aged care spending was directly attributable to dementia,” the report indicates.
More interesting statistics by the AIHW:
- Most people suffering from dementia live in the community (65%) – many of whom require care and assistance from family and friends to continue doing so.
- In 2021, up to 337,200 Australians provided constant unpaid care for a person with dementia, and over 50% of primary carers provided an average of 60 or more hours of unpaid care each week.
- Approximately 623,300 scripts for dementia-specific medications were dispensed to almost 64,600 Australians in 2019-2020.
- People hospitalised for dementia stayed five times longer than the average person
- Every week, half of unpaid carers provide an average of 60+ care hours
- One in four primary carers reported that more respite care was needed to support them
Call the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 or visit https://www.dementia.org.au/ for more information.