Tamworth and other regional areas are lagging well behind our city counterparts when it comes to dementia services according to the facilitator of the Tamworth Carer’s Group.
Anna Davidson said that dementia is the second highest killer of Australians behind heart disease, although the funding and availability in all areas from prevention, to diagnosis and care are all lacking in Tamworth.
“We know so much about how to live well with dementia but don’t have the funding and resources to do it in regional areas,” Ms Davidson said. Locally it is our biggest health concern.”
On Wednesday Alzheimer's Australia released some alarming figures that showed prevalence rates of dementia will double across the nation in the next forty years.
The study also shone a light on the exponential costs of the more than one hundred diseases that fall under the dementia category.
An Alzheimer’s Australia spokesperson said that there is more than 400,000 Australians living with dementia and almost 139,000 in NSW with an estimated cost of over $14 billion this year alone.
“In the Barwon, Northern Tablelands, and Tamworth state electorates there is estimated to be 5,300 people living with dementia,” the spokesperson said. This is expected to increase to an estimated 6,500 people by 2025, and 10,600 by 2056.”
That translates to to an estimated 244 new cases of dementia each day nationally, rising to 650 a day in 2056, costing a staggering $120.4 billion a year.
Tamworth currently has 1671 residents suffering form dementia, although Ms Davidson believes that the lack of available services means this number is likely low as many people don’t get diagnosed in regional areas.
“We need more advocacy and awareness, as well as funding,” Ms Davidson said. There is a real lack of education and understanding on how to approach and treat people with dementia, as well as their pathways to diagnosis and treatment.”
The Dementia Carers Support Group meets every second Wednesday of the month at the Tamworth Community Centre.