Dementia figures rising

Dementia figures rising

Shereen Rozario says the key to raising awareness is knowledge. Photograph - Juanita Shepherd.

Gosnells resident and enrolled nurse Shereen Rozario agreed with recent studies by Central Queensland University, which showed Australia’s dementia awareness was at odds with the statistics.

More than 400,000 people will be diagnosed with the condition in the next five years and there were more than 1.2 million people involved in the care of a person with dementia but Mrs Rozario said awareness of dementia among Australians was lacking.

She said she has more than 10 years experience working in aged care and in that time has noticed numerous people she has come across tend to stereotype dementia.

“Most people think it’s just an old person who has forgotten what their name is and don’t really know anything,” she said.

“While memory loss is definitely a part of dementia there is a lot more to it than that.”

Mrs Rozario said people need to be more aware of the condition and the best way to learn was to read up on the subject otherwise they run the risk of stereotyping.

“One of the biggest stereotypes that I have come across is that dementia is mostly associated with older people,” she said.

“While that is largely accurate it should be noted that it is a disorder that can affect people as young as in their 30s.”

Central Queensland University aged care and healthy ageing expert Lisa Hee said many Australians were not aware of the condition, its risk factors and the impact the disease had on quality life.

“On average there are now 1700 new diagnoses of dementia every week in Australia,” she said.

“That’s why it is absolutely imperative that we raise awareness of the condition among all age groups because nobody is immune to being impacted from it either as a person with dementia or as a carer, friend or family member.”

Ms Hee said dementia should be treated as a nationwide priority as without it there will be an increase in the unmet needs of the elderly with dementia and the increasing number of younger people living with the onset of dementia.