More than 700 delegates will converge on Adelaide next week for the Alzheimer’s Australia National Conference.

The association says this year’s conference comes at a critical time for people living with dementia, along with their families and carers.

The group says governments and researchers around the world are devoting great attention to dementia and Australia must too.

Conference delegates will address the challenge of developing policies and programs which will influence the priorities set beyond 2009.

The association will use the conference to release a discussion paper on respite care, which outline the critical need for more respite for dementia carers.

The paper recommends that services be more flexible and responsible to the needs of people living with dementia.

It calls for unused residential respite funding to be redirected to the national respite for carers program along with a trial of consumer-directed respite services.

“The unique and very challenging set of circumstances of caring for someone with dementia, including difficulties with diagnosis and accessing appropriate services, means many people who desperately need respite are just not getting it,” said Alzheimer’s Australia CEO, Glenn Rees.

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