Dementia going undiagnosed

New research shows most people with dementia have yet to receive a diagnosis, let alone comprehensive and continuing care.

The World Alzheimer Report 2016: Improving healthcare for people living with dementia, calls for concerted global action to increase the coverage of healthcare for people with dementia worldwide.

Alzheimer’s Australia National CEO Maree McCabe said the report’s release ahead of World Alzheimer’s Day on Wednesday, 21 September, highlights the need for a radical change in the way healthcare is delivered to people living with dementia.

McCabe also said the study reinforced Alzheimer’s Australia’s calls for a fully-funded National Dementia Strategy with measurable outcomes.

“Dementia affects 47 million people worldwide and more than 353,800 people are living with dementia in Australia,” Ms McCabe said.

“Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and what this report highlights again, is the real need for a national, co-ordinated approach to dementia in Australia,” she said.

According to the report, around half those in high income countries have received a diagnosis, and one in 10 or less in low and middle income countries.

Ms McCabe said care pathways were now a common component of chronic disease care for other conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer.

“People living with dementia deserve the same focus,” Ms McCabe said.

Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia in Australia is expected to soar to around 900,000 by 2050, she said.

Ms McCabe said a National Dementia Strategy for Australia would include increasing awareness, risk reduction strategies, timely diagnosis, coordinating approaches to post-diagnosis care and support, initiatives to improve the quality of care for people with dementia, end-of-life care to support the choices of people with end-stage dementia and investment in dementia research and support for consumer involvement in dementia research.

“Timely diagnosis is something Alzheimer’s Australia has long been advocating for and is so important. On average, symptoms are noticed by family members three years before a diagnosis is made, but some Australians never receive a diagnosis,” she said.

“Access to early intervention and treatment, support and services can make the world of difference to a person living with dementia because with the right support and services it is possible to live well with dementia for many years in the community.”

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