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NSW coast to be hardest hit by dementia epidemic

26 November, 2009

New figures predict coastal NSW to be hardest hit by dementia epidemic, with Sydney’s west and south-west to bear the brunt of dementia growth in the metropolitan area, according to the figures, prepared for Alzheimer's Australia NSW by Access Economics.

By 2050, the number of people with dementia will grow to more than 1.13 million Australians - 341,000 in NSW.

This means that a large proportion of the respite, support services, community care and aged residential care needed for people with dementia will fall outside the metropolitan areas of NSW, said the CEO of Alzheimer's Australia NSW The Hon. John Watkins.

“We know that, historically, regional areas do not generally receive the same level of service as metropolitan areas,” Mr Watkins said.

“We must plan now for dementia tsunami that is headed straight for us.”

The figures, prepared for Alzheimer's Australia NSW by Access Economics, detail dementia prevalence estimates for federal electorates across NSW.

The Richmond, Lyne, Cowper, Gilmore, Page and Dobell electorates - which are all in regional NSW - are in the top 10 federal electorates for dementia prevalence in NSW now and are expected to remain in the top 10 by 2050.

In the Sydney metropolitan area, the figures suggest that the western and south-western areas will be hardest hit. The federal electorates of Reid, Chifley, Lindsay, Mitchell, Macarthur and Werriwa will have an expected increase of between 400% and 750% in terms of dementia prevalence by mid-century.

Without a significant medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia in NSW is expected to quadruple from about 84,000 people today, to 341,000 by 2050. Nationally that figure is expected to exceed 1.13 million by 2050.

“Make no mistake, dementia will be disease of the century and will have a huge impact on the health and social welfare system,” Mr Watkins said.
“We need urgent action now to plan for the enormous impact dementia will have. We also need to make sure the planning for future service delivery is based on where the burden is going to fall.”

The figures were presented to Federal parliamentarians representing NSW Federal Electorates at a briefing Parliament House Australia this week.

Minister for Ageing, The Hon. Justine Elliot, also spoke at the briefing.

The numbers support Access Economics figures recently released by Alzheimer's Australia NSW which detailed dementia estimates in NSW state electorates.

“These figures indicate to us that the dementia epidemic is here,” Mr Watkins said.

“Because of the ageing population, there will be significant growth in the number of people with dementia in every single electorate across the State.

“The NSW federal electorate with the least number of people with dementia in 2050 will still have more than the NSW federal electorate with the most number of people this year.

“There are no winners.”

Mr Watkins said funding was urgently needed for more services for people with dementia and their carers and for more research to find a cure for dementia, or to delay the onset of the disease.

“We must act now to stem the tide of this debilitating and devastating disease,” Mr Watkins said.

“Dementia does not just affect the person with the diagnosis, but has a profound impact on their families and friends who must not only watch the person they love slowly slip away, but, often, must undertake the very difficult job of caring for them.”

The preparation of the figures was co-funded by Alzheimer's Australia NSW, Pfizer and Novartis by an unconditional grant.

Source: Alzheimer's Australia

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