A friendly way to help
TOODYAY has joined the dementia-friendly world – a timely decision, to say the least.
We have the second highest proportion of people over the age of 55 in the State and our proportion of those over 65 is 23.5 per cent, compared with the WA average of 13.9 per cent
We are, in short, an aging community.Read more
Although dementia is by no means a disease of the elderly alone – some 2500 people under the age of 65 are living with dementia in WA at present – the overwhelming majority of those being diagnosed are in senior ranks.
The outlook is clear. As citizens, as anyone interested in human wellbeing, we must help blunt the impact of this cruel disease. And, according to Alzheimer’s WA, that doesn’t call for much on our part.
The dementia-friendly project Toodyay has adopted lays emphasis on the need to gain a better understanding of what dementia is really about.
It speaks of stigmas – labels and attitudes that tend to make people living with dementia feel isolated, discriminated against and misunderstood.
By adopting a whole-of-town approach towards better understanding, attitudes can be changed and people living with dementia and their carers can enjoy a better quality of life.
Businesses, social groups and the broader community are urged to become involved.
As Genny Budas told The Herald about her experiences, a carer’s life in the world of dementia is a lonely one and sometimes all that is needed is the chance to share a cup of tea.
A better quality of life is a noble goal in itself but there are cost savings to be made as those with dementia and their carers find better support.
The number of people with dementia in WA has reached 34,000, and the national figure has soared to more than 413,000, with an estimated cost to the community of more than $14 billion this year alone.
The rate of increase is estimated at 244 new cases a day. And the trend will continue as Baby Boomers age.
A report commissioned by Dementia Australia found that if nothing is done to reduce the impact of the disease, the cost will blow out to more than $18 billion by 2025, and more than double to $36 billion in less than 40 years, in today’s dollars.
So just a small reduction in the number of people with dementia over the age of 65 could lead to savings in the millions.
Alzheimer’s WA says it is not possible to say how big a saving can be made through the dementia-friendly initiative.
But it is clear that a reduced burden on the health system will follow if people with dementia can be helped to have a greater sense of well-being, feel part of the community and hold back on the need to go into full-time care.