The release of a new report, The Economic Cost of Dementia in Australia 2016-2056 by Alzheimer’s Australia, should be a wakeup call to Malcolm Turnbull.
The report shows a disturbing trend in the growth rate of dementia sufferers and its financial impact. The cost of dementia is predicted to rise to $36 billion per year, and the number of sufferers is predicted to double to more than 1 million by 2056 without a genuine intervention.
Labor welcomes the renewed call from Alzheimer’s Australia for the urgent development of a National Dementia Strategy in response to this report.
While dementia became a National Health Priority Area in 2012, followed by the release of a National Framework in 2015, support for a national strategy delivering a coordinated approach to dementia has been missing under the Turnbull Liberal Government.
During the 2016 election, Labor committed to develop a national strategy to address the seven priorities identified in the National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015 – 2019.
These priorities include:
1. Increasing awareness and reducing risk.
2. The need for timely diagnosis.
3. Accessing care and support post-diagnosis.
4. Accessing ongoing care and support.
5. Accessing care and support during and after hospital care.
6. Accessing end of life and palliative care.
It is well past time for Malcolm Turnbull to make dementia more than just a priority on paper – we must do more to see a world without dementia become a reality.
The report also estimates that more than 25,000 people are living with younger onset dementia in 2017.
Dementia is not simply an aged care issue - it is a chronic health condition with social and economic implications.
Dementia is now the second leading cause of death of Australians.
While there is currently no cure, we can act now to reduce the risk and severity of dementia, and raise awareness to facilitate early diagnosis and improve care.
This report shows that the development of a National Dementia Strategy is not only critical to addressing the human side of dementia, there is also an economic imperative.
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