01:03am Wednesday 23 October 2019

The Dementia Epidemic: Is Australia Prepared?

With more than 1,800 new cases in Australia each week, dementia is predicted to be one of the biggest public health issues we will ever face.

“It’s forecast that in about twenty years dementia will be the number one killer of Australians and the most expensive health disorder,” said Associate Professor Michael Valenzuela, Leader of Regenerative Neuroscience Group at the University’s Brain and Mind Research Institute.

Would you want to know you are at risk of dementia in the future? Is prevention possible? And can we really support people to live well with this disease? Different perspectives will be uncovered in a free Sydney Ideas public forum hosted by the University of Sydney.

Professor Sharon Naismith from the Brain and Mind Institute said it’s vital to help people optimise brain performance before it’s too late.

“We need to promote a better understanding of dementia and focus on targeting risk factors, like a lack of physical activity or depression,” Professor Naismith said.

“Targeting these risk factors could slow or even prevent cognitive decline and the mighty force of the dementia epidemic at a global level.”

However with the diseases that cause dementia developing in the brain well before symptoms appear, Australia is already facing unprecedented demand for health and aged care services in the future.

“We simply do not have enough aged care facilities and paid carers to cater for our ageing population and the predicted rates of dementia,” said Associate Professor Lee-Fay Low from the Faculty of Health Sciences.

“Addressing the issue of the aged care workforce is a priority, but we also need to think of new ways to help people with dementia and family carers to live the kind of life they want in their own homes.

“And that also mean’s changing community attitudes to be more conscious and accepting of people with dementia living in the community.”

The facts on dementia:

-There are more than 342,800 Australians living with dementia
-Without a medical breakthrough, the number is expected to grow to almost 900,000 by 2050
-An estimated 1.2 million people are involved in the care of a person with dementia
-Australia faces a shortage of more than 150,000 paid and unpaid carers for people with dementia by 2029

Alzheimer’s Australia, https://fightdementia.org.au/about-dementia-and-memory-loss/statistics

Event details:
When: Wednesday 20 May, 6.30 – 8pm

Where: Law School Foyer, Sydney Law School, University of Sydney

Panel members:
– Lee-Fay Low, Associate Professor in Ageing and Health, Faculty of Health Science
– Sharon Naismith, Head of the Healthy Brain Ageing Program, Brain and Mind Research Institute
-Michael Valenzuela, Head of the Regenerative Neuroscience Group, Brain and Mind Research Institute
-John Watkins, CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia NSW
-Alan Gravolin, caring for his wife with dementia

Cost:Free and open to all with online registration required


Media enquiries
Michelle Blowes, 0478 303 173, michelle.blowes@sydney.edu.au
Dan Gaffney, 0481 004 782 daniel.gaffney@sydney.edu.au

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