Dementia remains the second leading cause of death in Australia and is likely to take the number one spot in coming years, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ new report on causes of death shows.

Dementia also remains the leading cause of death for females in Australia while ischaemic heart disease remains the leading cause of death for males and overall, according to the ABS’s Causes of Death, Australia 2018 report relased on Wednesday.

At the same time, the Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre has released a guide for doctors that promises to significantly reduce dementia rates in Australia along with a research bundle on best practice dementia care.

Deaths from dementia increasing

Deaths due to dementia including Alzheimer’s disease have increased by 68.6 per cent since 2009 to include 13,963 people last year including 8,973 females.

People who died from dementia represented 41.2 deaths per 100,000 people and were aged 89 on average.

The decrease in cardiovascular disease mortality and increases in deaths from dementia create the largest changes in leading causes of death in Australia, the ABS said.

“Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease replaced Cerebrovascular diseases as the second leading cause in 2013 and on current trend will become the leading cause of death in coming years,” the report said.

Maree McCabe

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said without a major medical breakthrough this trend would likely continue.

“With more than 447,000 Australians currently living with dementia, and the number expected to increase to almost 1.1 million by 2058, dementia is the chronic disease of the 21st century,” Ms McCabe said.

Research shows there is a lack of knowledge about dementia and the World Alzheimer Report released last week found 95 per cent of people think they will develop dementia in their lifetime, she said.

“While age is a risk factor, dementia is not a normal part of ageing,” Ms McCabe said.

Guide launched to help GPs prevent dementia

To help reduce dementia rates nationally, the Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration for the NHMRC Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre has developed new guidelines for general practitioners.

Professor Kaarin Anstey

The guide combines 10 years of research into simple and usable instructions for doctors, said DCRC director Professor Kaarin Anstey.

“Many Australians don’t realise they can effectively reduce their risk of developing dementia.

“These guidelines will equip GPs with evidence-based guidance on modifiable risk factors in mid and late life,” said Professor Anstey, a senior principal researcher at Neuroscience Research Australia and UNSW.

The risk factors covered by the guidelines include:

  • diet
  • alcohol consumption
  • physical activity
  • smoking
  • social engagement
  • sleep
  • obesity
  • medical conditions.

The Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention found around 15 per cent of dementia cases globally could be prevented by making straightforward GP-recommended changes, such as reducing blood pressure or increasing physical activity, she said.

Access the new guidelines for GPs here.

Access the CDCP’s Australian Clinical Guidelines for people with dementia and companion consumer guide here.

Free publication highlights best practice dementia care

Earlier this month to coincide with last week’s Dementia Action Week, the CDPC published a bundle of new research in a special open-access issue of the Australasian Journal on Ageing.

The 12 papers focus on dementia from a societal perspective and new research on innovative care programs that improve quality of life from the perspectives of people with dementia.

The publication outlines research evidence on dementia including in the residential aged care setting on:

  • alternatives in staffing structures
  • medication use
  • innovative models of care for people with dementia.

Access the publication: Organising Care, Practice and Participative Research: Papers from the Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre

Comment below to have your say on this story

Subscribe to Australian Ageing Agenda magazine and sign up to the AAA newsletter

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Are there any groups in sydney east where my mum could link in other other people her age 78 going through memory loss? It’s scary for her so that would help her normalise it I think..

    Thank you so much for all your amazing work.

    Lisa

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.