DISTURBING and frightening are two words the head of a national body would use to describe what is becoming a dementia epidemic.
New figures from Alzheimer’s Australia show there are about 3650 people living with dementia in the Murray and Cootamundra electorates.
Griffith is located in the Murray electorate and the number of sufferers in the area are expected to soar to 4450 people by 2025 and 7050 by 2056.
Alzheimer’s Australia chief executive officer John Watkins was terrified for rural communities.
“I find these numbers to be extremely disturbing and almost frightening,” he said.
“It’s obviously because as we know we do have an ageing population, but at the moment, particularly in regional areas, we just don’t have the correct infrastructure to be dealing with the amount of people that will have dementia in the years to come.
“More needs to be done, particularly for areas like the Murray electorate. Dementia is a horrible thing.”
Mr Watkins said there were three ways to help prevent those numbers from getting worse.
He said there was also more evidence to show individuals could help prevent being diagnosed by leading a healthy lifestyle from a young age.
“The first thing is we need more research,” Mr Watkins said.
“Secondly, there’s the need for individuals to do their part. Lead a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally.
“The third is for federal government and I suppose all levels of government to fund a dementia framework.
“If we don’t deal with things like having appropriate aged care facilities, hospitals and services, especially in rural areas then we will have an even bigger problem on our hands.”
The number of people living with dementia in Australia sits at 400,000, which is expected to cost the nation $14 billion this year.
A recent report also showed the link between football and dementia.
“It’s been proven there can be a link with dementia and concussions sustained when playing football of all varieties,” Mr Watkins said.
“Sporting codes are aware of this and have made steps in some cases to protect their players, but more certainly needs to be done, especially for young children.
“They can’t ignore it any longer … it’s a real problem and it’s serious.”
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