I’d like to set the scene by saying the following, so get ready for some confronting facts.
Dementia is the second leading cause of Australia today, like a number of years ago it was number four and of course the cardiovascular diseases such as heart and stroke were one and two, and cancer was three.
Within a space of a few years, dementia has risen from fourth place, to number two, as a killer in Australia. In 2016, dementia became the leading cause of death among Australian women, surpassing heart disease. In 2018, this year, an estimated 425 thousand Australians have dementia. Break that down what does that mean, well for males its 191,000, which represents 45%, and for women it’s 234,000, which represents 55% of that 425,000. Dementia affects almost 50 million people worldwide today, and it is expected to affect 75 million people worldwide by 2030. 250 people in Australia are diagnosed with dementia every day. That’s 10 Australians’ every hour. Worldwide someone develops dementia every 3 seconds, and that equates to 1,200 people worldwide every hour. So by the time we sit down and start our question-and-answer session, we know that 10 people Australia will have been diagnosed within an hour, and we know that 1,200 people will have been diagnosed within the hour worldwide. So if there’s a catch phrase or if there’s a way that we can actually represent the talk tonight and what happens after tonight, as we begin to build awareness and as you begin to build awareness, it’s ten, twelve hundred. That’s 10 Australians every hour, 1,200 people worldwide will have some level of onset dementia.
Let’s look at the financial costs to Australia. In 2018, it’s estimated that dementia costs Australia 15 billion dollars. By 2025, its projected it would rise to 19 billion, and by 2056 it’s projected to be more than 36.8 billion.
Let’s look at what that means worldwide.
Well this year, it’s estimated to reach 1 trillion dollars of cost to the economy, the worldwide economy. That’s 1,000 billion dollars, which is a hard figure to perceive. If dementia was a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy.
I think to finalise, my part of setting the scene, before I introduce Themi (watch dementia Q & A video), I want us to maybe look at some of the challenges ahead of us.
Well I think the first thing is tonight, for us, it’s part of building awareness and looking at how we might understand what early diagnosis, and the signs might be. Clearly, Themi is going to be talking as well about prevention and there is hope at the end of this, so prevention and how we might stop the progress of dementia is an important one.
The costs, I think it’s important that as Australians we realise that the government’s policy about how they’re going to actually meet the needs of us as we grow older, clearly has not been worked out and we can barely not depend on the government or the taxpayer to meet the full cost of dementia as our needs progress.
I’m going to suggest and I’m going to be provocative in my suggestion to us all, that when we’re actually planning for retirement, planning for retirement also is going to mean that we’re going to have to plan for how you and I are going to pay for our own future care needs and that’s an important, confrontational, provocative point, that we have to address going forward. We need to look at the challenge of do we stay at home or do we move into, what I’m calling, community living environments.
One of those community living environments happens to be our own residential aged-care facility. We’ve got our own views about that as operators, we have our own views about that as health practitioners and as other health professionals. I would just suggest for the moment, that I believe that the policy of government, previous governments and current governments, is failing. Living longer, living better is no longer working. People are living longer, they’re not necessarily living better. I know from our anecdotal evidence, our experience over the last number of years in our residential aged-care facility, that if we could get people earlier coming into our residential aged-care facility, we can add value for their lives and we can prolong the years there with us, but currently the policy of government is to keep people at home and, I would suggest that seven or ten hours of care at home does not equate to the wonderful experiences and quality of life that people get in residential aged care facilities or the or can get in future community living environments.
We need to look at the challenges of best building and landscape designs. Our buildings today, properly designed and built for the current needs and the future needs of people with dementia. We need to take full use of all of the information technology advancements and there are huge advancements that have been made worldwide, there’s a huge amount of fragmentation about some of those devices but they are closely coming to meet the needs of individuals and I think over the next number of years we’ll certainly begin to make maximum uses of those. I think when it comes to some important things like food, that keeps us all walking and living and enjoying ourselves, we’re challenged by the presentation, the taste, the colour, the texture and even the table settings, in the way we actually present food to people, to ensure that they have the right nutrition or the right hydration and that’s real challenge, whether you’re living at home or whether you’re living in a different environment. It really is important that we take those challenges on together to ensure we get the right food, hydration and enjoyment of food as we might require if we have dementia.
Medical research will be saying a few things and I’m sure it’ll come up during question-answer sessions as well in part two today. It’s about the medical research and where are we at in terms of medical research. I believe that we have an immense challenge ahead of us in terms of workforce and how we train our staff in the changing needs of people and certainly people with dementia.
I think it’s really important ladies and gentlemen to finish, is that we grasp these challenges and we do would hope, there is hope, and family will certainly be touching on some of those aspects that we can use to prevent onset dementia and what we might do once we have dementia.
So let’s challenge and let’s grasp some of these challenges with hope, with optimism and with vision.
Chief Executive Officer