The multibillion dollar health costs in the report released today from Alzheimer’s Australia in Canberra should be a wake up call for parties in the coming election according to WA CEO Rhonda Parker.
The number of people with dementia in Australia is now 413,000 and the estimated cost to the community is more than $14 billion this year, meaning in WA there are more than 40,000 diagnosed with a cost well in excess of a billion dollars. This is more than 20% up on previous estimates.
A five per cent reduction in the number of people developing dementia over the age of 65 could lead to national savings of $5.7 billion from 2016-25 and $120.4 billion by 2056.
“The spiralling rate of diagnosis is alarming but despite this we have yet to see election policies in WA targeting dementia,” Ms Parker said.
“Dementia is the second biggest killer in Australia and those diagnosed have a long and often arduous journey.”
“The major political parties need to be clear on what they are doing to help Western Australians living with dementia in care and support and where they stand on reducing prevalence.”
The report is clear that lifestyle risk and protective factors for dementia offer very real opportunities for prevention programs that could reduce the number of Australians developing dementia each year by as much as 13%.
Priorities in policy on dementia going into the election will be a major issue for more than 40,000 West Australians with dementia and their 100,000 carers.
WA has shown national leadership in dementia response for some years and those with dementia need to know there is an ongoing commitment.
Whilst a cure is sought, Ms Parker said there needs to be a level of government that takes respite care seriously and aims to reduce the burden on those with a diagnosis and their carers.
Report: The Economic Cost of Dementia in Australia 2016-2056
University of Canberra’s National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM)
Alzheimer’s Australia WA said this needs to be a key issue in the WA state election.
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