Page 1207 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 10 April 2018

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Alzheimer’s Australia and Alzheimer’s ACT. The organisation changed its name last year to Dementia Australia.

There are more than 100 different types of dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease is just one of those. The new name reflects that as the peak body they are here for people of all ages living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers. To coincide with the name change, Alzheimer’s Australia’s state and territory bodies joined together to become one single organisation, Dementia Australia.

Dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians, contributing to 5.4 per cent of all deaths of males and 10.6 per cent of all deaths of females each year. In 2016 dementia became the leading cause of death amongst Australian females, surpassing heart disease, which had been the leading cause of death for both males and females since the early 20th century.

Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to increase to more than 500,000 by 2025 and over a million by 2056. Currently an estimated 250 people get diagnosed with dementia each day.

Dementia is estimated to cost Australia more than $15 billion in 2018. It is the single greatest cause of disability in Australians aged 65 years or older and the third leading cause of disability burden overall. People with dementia account for 52 per cent of all residents in residential aged-care facilities.

Dementia is a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. It is not one specific disease. It affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. The hallmark of dementia is the inability to carry out everyday activities as a consequence of diminished cognitive ability. Doctors diagnose dementia if two or more cognitive functions are significantly impaired, such as memory, language skills, understanding information, spatial skills, judgement and attention.

Although the likelihood of a diagnosis increases as we age, dementia can be diagnosed in younger people in their 50s and 40s or even as young as their 30s. And younger onset dementia describes any form of dementia diagnosed in people under the age of 65. There are an estimated 26,443 Australians currently living with younger onset dementia, and this figure is predicted to increase to more than 42,000 by 2056. When words begin to escape you and you cannot remember where you live or that you have met someone before, a previously vibrant, intelligent and self-reliant adult may face a devastating diagnosis of early onset dementia, the impact of which on that individual and their family cannot be understated.

Dementia ACT provides respite links, dementia links, a counselling service, a dementia network, liaison officers, a library, a mobile response team and a newsletter, amongst other services. Madam Deputy Speaker, you can find out more from Dementia Australia, which is located in Kaleen, or you can call the national dementia helpline on 1800 100 500.

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