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Alzheimers NZ Urges Govt to Recognise "National Crisis"

Alzheimers New Zealand Urges New Zealand Government To Recognise Dementia As A ‘National Crisis’

Alzheimers New Zealand is encouraged by yesterday’s announcement by UK prime minister David Cameron that their government will be doubling funding for dementia research and hopes this announcement will go some way toward influencing our own our government to take further action in New Zealand.
In his speech, which launched the ‘National Dementia Challenge’, the prime minister outlined three key areas aimed at making the UK a leader in dementia care and research, these are:

• making sure health and social care systems are properly geared up to deal with the crisis
• radically stepping up research into cures and treatments, with overall funding for research doubled to reach £66m by 2015
• getting society involved in the fight: communities, charities, businesses

Mr Cameron also said: “The level of diagnosis, understanding and awareness of dementia is shockingly low. It is as though we’ve been in collective denial.”

He added the issue should be treated as a “national crisis”.

Alzheimers New Zealand is urging the New Zealand government to also recognise and treat dementia as the most serious health crisis to be faced this century in New Zealand.

The reality is that dementia is expected to increase to epidemic proportions in the very near future due to our country’s aging population. Today there around 44,000 recorded cases of dementia in New Zealand, however, we expect the true figure to be significantly higher than this as only 60% of people are diagnosed, according to the World Alzheimer Report 2011. Numbers of people with dementia are expected to double every twenty years. Dementia has no cure.

Around half of all New Zealanders with dementia live with family carers, many who are providing around-the-clock care with little or no government support.

It is inevitable that the governments worldwide will spend increasing proportions of health and social care budget on older people living with chronic conditions such as dementia.

Nevertheless, few countries have developed comprehensive policies or plans to address the impact of dementia, now and for the future. Today’s announcement shows the UK is taking a lead and it is time for New Zealand to also take action.

Last year’s budget announcement was a step in the right direction. The dementia community has long recognised the need for greater cooperation between all dementia response agencies in order to best prepare New Zealand for the expected ‘epidemic’ of dementia over the coming years. The commitment from Government adds to that collaboration and we welcome continued investment in order for us to fulfil our promise to people living with dementia in our local communities. Now that we have a significant investment from Government to address the pressing issues of quality care for people with advanced and acute dementia, as well as better supports for carers through respite, we can focus on building better strategies and securing the funding now needed to support people living with dementia in the home.

According to the Alzheimers New Zealand Dementia Economic Impact Report (2008) delaying the entry of people with dementia into residential aged care by just three months would save the government $62.3 million. Alzheimers New Zealand have long advocated for better support for those caring for people with dementia at home, as part of the governments aging in place strategy.

Alzheimers New Zealand asks government to make dementia a national health priority and recognise dementia as a national crisis and to adequately fund the sector and best prepare for the significant costs of dementia in the future.

A National Dementia Strategy, launched at Parliament in May 2010, established clear actions to better support people with dementia and their carers. This document was developed in consultation with stakeholders throughout the sector as well as those who face the daily challenge of living with the disease. The strategy identifies key areas needing investment including early diagnosis and management of the disease, appropriate services including best practices, and better supports for carers who provide in-home care.

The success of the National Dementia Strategy hinges on governments recognition of the social and economical impacts of the disease and adopting dementia as a national health priority.

If you are concerned about someone with dementia please contact your local Alzheimers organisation for support on 0800 004 001.


About dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Dementia occurs as a result of physical changes in the brain which affect memory, thinking, behaviour and emotion. In New Zealand, over 43,000 people have dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia (50-70%).

By 2026, 74,821 people will have dementia
By 2050, 146,699 people will have dementia.

These numbers are growing dramatically due to an aging population combined with the fact people are living longer. Diagnosis is also being made at an increasingly younger age, sometimes in people as young as 50. There is no cure.


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