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Treating dementia as national priority

Media release – April 17, 2008

Treating dementia as national priority: Alzheimers NZ milestone

Alzheimers New Zealand today challenged the incoming Government to put more money into planning ahead for future services required to manage the predicted increase in the number of people with dementia.

An estimated 33,000 people live with dementias which is a key health issue facing New Zealanders, Alzheimers NZ national director Lucille Ogston said today.

She made the comments on the eve of Alzheimers NZ’s annual meeting in Wellington on Saturday.

In response to this, a major dementia economic impact study report will be released by Alzheimers New Zealand in July which will play a major part in providing the robust information and analysis needed to give direction for future services in New Zealand, she said.

``The study report will provide the vital information on which the national response to dementia can be based. The study findings will be released at a launch in Wellington.’’

``Our biggest milestone in the last year was beginning discussion with the government about the special needs of people living with dementia, their carers and families. In New Zealand we have more than 33,000 people with dementia, a figure that will rise dramatically by the year 2050.’’

Ogston said she wants dementia to be a compulsory part of medical training; improved access to quality dementia care services and a workforce able to deliver quality dementia care to people with dementia.

The impact of dementia on the New Zealand economy and the health of people is enormous. International estimates indicate that the number of people with dementia will rise by 75% by 2031.

In 2001, around 12 percent of New Zealand's total population was aged 65 years and over and this is expected to increase to 19 percent by 2021.

Dementia ranks as the fourth leading cause of death among the population aged 65 years and over.

World wide, there are an estimated 29.8 million people with dementia, with the number expected to be 81.1 million by 2050.

In the UK, there are currently 700,000 people with dementia; two-thirds of them are women. The financial cost of dementia to the UK is over stg17 billion a year.

In Australia, dementia affects the lives of nearly one million Australians who are involved in caring for a family member or friend with dementia. It is the second largest cause of disability burden after depression.

An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, and it could steal the minds of one out of eight baby boomers, according to a recent report released by their Alzheimer's Association.

Ends


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