Report highlights dementia inequality

Western Australian research released today to launch Dementia Awareness Month shows a raft challenges identified by people living with dementia.

The report identified stigma as a key challenge for more than 300 people living with dementia and carers who provided personal experiences for the study.

People living with dementia and their carers stated the biggest problems are attitudes, understanding and awareness. In particular, the concerns were a lack of understanding or patience, a lack of family support as well as general negative attitudes.

The report is part of the WA Dementia-Friendly Communities project lead by Alzheimer’s Australia WA and funded by the Government of Western Australia

The report provides eight key recommendations from people living with dementia and carers

  1. Reduce stigma through improved awareness of dementia in the general community.
  2. Increase knowledge of dementia in medical professionals.
  3. Develop of dementia enabling physical access and design.
  4. Increase awareness of customers’ needs with dementia in businesses and services.
  5. Increase support and information for families and carers.
  6. Improve access to social clubs and activities for people living with dementia.
  7. Provide accessible person-centred dementia care and support services.
  8. Improve transport services. 

Alzheimer’s Australia WA CEO Rhonda Parker said the report provided the most first step in the journey to making a dementia friendly nation. The research was innovative in its state wide approach to consultation because it brought people living with dementia, carers and dementia professionals together in workshops. 

“It is the first time anywhere in Australia that people with dementia were sought in communities across the state to shape the future.”

“A major thing that we need to remember is that 70 per cent of people with dementia live at home in the community and 30 per cent of those live alone. Becoming dementia-friendly is a community challenge for all of us,” Ms Parker said

With 32,000 people living with dementia in Western Australia, and that projection set to grow over the next few decades as the population ages, there is much work to do. Alzheimer’s Australia WA has put in many strategies and sought important partners to work on this challenge,” she said.

The strategies already in place as part of the project include

  • Working directly with local government partners to build their capacity,
  • Education and awareness strategies,
  • Consulting with public building such as art galleries, libraries and museums,
  • Development of a building audit tool, 
  • Seeking partners in the WA Police Force,
  • Development of the Dementia Aware Friend group, and
  • Support of projects that convey positive messages about people living with dementia.

“Local government has shown great leadership and enthusiasm for this project,” Ms Parker said

Future focused partners have been announced with the Cities of Wanneroo, Bunbury and Rockingham accepting the challenge of being pilot sites working towards dementia-friendly communities.

City of Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts said she is proud that Wanneroo will this month become the first local government in Western Australia to undertake an audit of how dementia-friendly the City is.

“This audit will help us understand the needs of people with dementia, which is crucial given that projections show the number of city residents affected will soar to more than 4,000 by 2050,” Mayor Roberts said.

“This is an important audit because it will allow the City of Wanneroo to better understand the needs of our residents, enabling us to further develop and grow our communities into the future.

“We are working across our City to ensure the physical environment meets the needs of people living with dementia.”

“The City of Wanneroo is leading the way in developing dementia-friendly communities,” Ms Parker said. 

The research findings supported past national and international results including 2014 research showing that 59 per cent of people with dementia thought other people avoided spending time with them because of their dementia diagnosis.

For a copy of the report or for media enquiries:   Sam Lynch: 0419 971 713 or