22 March 2009

Deaths from dementia and Alzheimer's more than double in a decade: ABS

Dementia now fourth highest cause of death in Australians
Alzheimer’s Australia NSW Media Release: 19 March 2009
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) latest report found deaths from dementia have more than doubled in the past decade. In 2007, 5.3 per cent of all deaths were from dementia, up from 2.6 percent in 1998.

Dementia is now the fourth highest cause of death in Australia (previously ranked seventh). Heart disease, stroke and lung cancer remain the top three.

“This is a startling finding and demonstrates the growing momentum of this condition in Australia,” The Hon. John Watkins, CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, said.

“The ABS statistics highlight the critical need for immediate action into planning for the significant health, social and economic impacts on Australian society these dementia figures represent,” Mr John Watkins said.

“Now is the time to take a long-term view and plan for the future of aged care and dementia care services in Australia,” Mr Watkins added.

“An increase in funding for medical research is now also urgently needed to ensure adequate prevention measures and even a cure for dementia,” Mr Watkins said.

Mr Watkins said the direct economic cost of dementia and cost of dementia care combined is currently $7.3 billion*. (Australian Dementia Research: current status, future directions? A report for Alzheimer’s Australia, Paper 16, June 2008)

Statistics on dementia:
  • 234,640 people have dementia in Australia.
  • 74,000 people have dementia in NSW, with 227,000 expected to be directly affected by 2050
  • One in three Australians with dementia are from NSW
  • 161 cases of dementia are discovered every day in Australia
  • Over one million Australians are involved in caring for a family member or friend with dementia
    By 2016 dementia will be the largest cause of disability burden in Australia. (source: Access Economics)

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