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Understanding dementia treatment, care and its physical and social consequences

Background Paper 3

Dementia is a significant issue for the Australian community, and particularly the aged care and health systems.

Dementia is one of the leading causes of disability for older people. In 2015, it was a contributing factor in approximately 15.8% of all deaths in Australia and in 2016, over half (52%) of people in living in residential care had dementia.

Misunderstandings about dementia are common and knowledge about dementia treatments among the Australian public is reported as poor.

The paper, Dementia in Australia: nature, prevalence and care. Background Paper 3, aims to provide a high level introduction to dementia. It reviews the findings of broad-reaching Australian and international research, demographic reports and literature, and addresses a number of issues, including:

  • What is dementia
  • What are the physical and social consequences of dementia
  • How prevalent is dementia in Australia
  • What the research says about dementia care
  • Support for families and carers
  • The dementia workforce

The research presented highlights the potentially significant impact of timely diagnosis in primary care settings and positive outcomes of a person-centred or small domestic model of care on people living with dementia, as well as their family, friends and informal carers.

Statistics reveal the "much higher prevalence and incidence, and younger onset of dementia, as well as higher rates of risk factors for dementia" for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, presenting a significant challenge.

The need for improved, dementia-specific staff training in aged care settings is also explored.  

The research and information presented in this paper is intended to outline and explain some of the complex issues that will be raised during the upcoming Sydney hearing, beginning 6 May 2019.

The paper is now available on the publications page.