Inquiry into dementia early diagnosis
Alzheimer’s Australia welcomed an inquiry into early diagnosis of dementia and intervention, to be undertaken by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing.
Alzheimer’s Australia’s National Policy Manager Dr. Ellen Skladzien said there is an urgent need to improve primary care services for people with dementia.
“Alzheimer’s Australia encourages individuals and organisations to make submissions into this most important inquiry,” Dr Skladzien said.
“Australians are waiting an average of three years from when they first notice symptoms of dementia to receiving a firm diagnosis. This is consistent with worldwide estimates.
“The most recent Alzheimer’s Disease International report estimated that up to 80% of people with dementia across the globe have not yet been diagnosed.
“The delay in diagnosis is not just an inconvenience. The trauma of not knowing what is wrong means that precious years of life early in the diagnosis are spent searching for an answer or some way to understand what is going on.”
A report released by Alzheimer’s Australia late last year suggests that there are many reasons that contribute to delays in diagnosis including the false belief that dementia is a normal part of ageing, lack of awareness of the benefits of early diagnosis, denial on the part of the individual and family, the complexity of diagnosing dementia and doctors being reluctant to damage the doctor-patient relationship.
“With 280,000 Australians living with dementia and almost one million people expected to have dementia by 2050, it is crucial the government act quickly to ensure people with dementia have access to timely diagnosis and intervention.
“This will be the key to enabling people to better plan for their future.”
The the House of Representatives Standing Committee will focus on how early intervention and diagnosis can help people to remain independent; increase social and community engagement; help people with dementia and their carers to plan for their future; and, how to deliver awareness about dementia to the community.
23 March 2012.