The announcement that a celebrity has dementia can make headlines around the world. It is sad when anyone has a diagnosis of dementia, but when a celebrity has this cruel condition, it is brought to the attention of a much broader audience.
This must be challenging, not only for the individual, but for their loved ones as they come to terms with the diagnosis of this incurable condition.
The reality is that dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians and the leading cause of death for women.
Today, there are over 400,000 Australians living with dementia and this is predicted to more than double by 2058. A large proportion of these individuals continue to live at home with the assistance of an informal primary carer. This may be a partner or other family member or friend.
Over 1.6 million people are involved with the care of someone living with dementia. It is important for informal carers to take care of their own emotional, mental and physical wellbeing so that they can continue to provide support.
Aged care services play a critical role for both people with dementia and their carers. Overnight or day respite options can provide informal carers with a much-needed break, giving them time to undertake other tasks or simply rest.
Home care and support can also help the person to continue to live in their own home, while residential aged care services offer respite and ongoing care when needed.
With an ageing population, further research into the causes and treatment of dementia is vital. At present, there is no known cure. If we are to reduce the predicted number of people who will be affected, more research is needed.
The Partnership in iSupport program is a research project funded by the Medical Research Future Fund’s Dementia and Ageing Care Mission. A joint initiative between Resthaven and Flinders University, the aim is to provide carers of people living with dementia with a ‘link worker’ who can assist the carer to navigate and access services.
Dementia Australia provides education and support for people living with dementia and their families. To learn more to be better equipped to manage, call the National Dementia Helpline on free call 1800 100 500.
Opinion piece by Darren Birbeck,
Chief Executive Officer,