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Dementia is one of the major chronic diseases in the century. The impact of the disease is high health, social and economic costs which are expected to escalate in the near future as the population with dementia continues to rise. Dementia exerts a considerable economic burden to the families of the affected individuals. Additionally, the health systems, as well as the aged care systems, are also affected. The expected rise in the prevalence of dementia implies that the government ought to develop initiatives that will address the issue to help the affected people have access to proper care and support. The expected increase in dementia cases will have a huge impact on the healthcare system of Australia.
Dementia is a group of conditions that affect the memory, thinking, behavior and ability of individuals to perform daily activities. The disease mainly occurs to old people although age is not inevitable to the occurrence of the disease. Therefore, dementia is not limited to people and when occurring to people under 65 years the condition is referred to as younger onset dementia (YOD). YOD accounts for 8 percent of all people with dementia in the United States. Also, 65 % of people living with dementia in Australia are men. According to Australian Institute of Health (2012), dementia contributes to about 5.4 % of deaths in all males and a corresponding 10.6% of all female deaths annually. By the year 2016 dementia was the leading cause of death to the females in Australia surpassing heart disease which has been the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 36 people die per day from dementia. In 2016 13126 people died of dementia with 8447 being female (Australian Institute of Health, 2012).
Currently, the prevalence of dementia in Australia stands at approximately 436, 366 Australians. If no changes are made to achieve a medical breakthrough it is expected that this number will rise to 589,807 by 2028 and 1,076,129 by 2058. Each day 250 Australians acquire dementia. It is stipulated that by the year 2025, new cases of dementia recorded per day will increase to 318 cases. New cases are higher in people who are above 85 years. Currently, 3 in every 10 people over the age of 85 have dementia while almost 1 in every 10 people above 65 years has YOD. The number of people with YOD is expected to rise to 29,375 people by 2025. Still, the number is expected to elevate to 42,252 people by 2056 (Australian Institute of Health, 2012).
Dementia has resulted in a huge financial burden in Australia. This year it is expected that dementia will cost Australia more than $15 billion. Therefore, with the estimated rise in dementia cases, the cost is also expected to rise to $18.7 billion by 2025 and the figure is expected to double by 2056 (Australian Institute of Health, 2012). The healthcare system implication is that dementia is the major cause of disability in Australians. With regard to aged care, dementia accounts to about 52% of people living in aged care facilities.
With the lack of an available cure for dementia, the figures for the prevalence of dementia are expected to rise in future. The projected increase in the cases of dementia will exert pressure on the expenditure on health system of Australia (Warburton & Mahoney, 2016). Some of the individual components of the healthcare system affected include hospital expenditure, general practitioner visits, and pharmaceutical visits all which will affect the general healthcare costs and systems (Hodgkin, Warburton & Savy, 2012). Additionally, the impact of dementia can be experienced in different services ranging from general practice; home-based care, hospital services as well as residential aged care.
With regard to hospital expenditure, the increase in the dementia cases will result in an increase of both public and private inpatient costs. The cost of dementia in the healthcare system of Australia is huge and it is expected to grow as more healthcare expenditure is set aside for handling dementia (Productivity Commission, 2011). With about 436, 366 Australians having dementia, more than a million people are affected either as family, friends, and carers of the patients. With the number of people living with dementia expected to increase considerably, it is evident that the implication in the healthcare system will be intense. Patients living with severe dementia require full-time care or full-time accommodation (Clark & MCCann, 2008).
Dementia is a common condition and with the projected increase in prevalence in the next two decades it is evident that it will become more common. The future projections are expected to be valid if no major actions will be taken to aid in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the condition (Walsh, 2006). To reduce the economic and social burden of dementia in Australia, it is important that the government develops initiatives that will provide policies favorable for people living with dementia (Bryden, 2012). Such initiatives ought to advocate for access to proper care and support of dementia patients from the moment of diagnosis to provision of treatment.
The recommended initiatives to avert the looming increase in financial burden on the Australian healthcare system include early intervention with a corresponding timely diagnosis of the condition. Additionally, policies ought to be developed to assist dementia patients to live in the community where long-term benefits will be achieved. Such measures will save billions that are expected to spend in direct costs in the future. Additionally, such measures are expected to improve the quality of care for millions of Australians. In this regard, there is a need for the development of a comprehensive approach to improving the quality of care with a corresponding aged care system.
Australian Institute of Health. (2012). Dementia in Australia. AIHW.
Bryden, C. (2012). Who will I be when I die?. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Clark, E., & MCCann, T. (2008). The aged care sector: residential and community care. Understanding the Australian Health Care System, 83.
Hodgkin, S., Warburton, J., & Savy, P. (2012). Using mixed methods to develop and implement a work sampling tool in residential aged care. International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches, 6(1), 23-32.
Productivity Commission. (2011). Caring for older Australians.
Walsh, D. (2006). Dementia care training manual for staff working in nursing and residential settings. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Warburton, J., & Mahoney, A. M. (2016). The aged care sector: Residential and community care. Understanding the Australian Health Care System, 121.
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