World Alzheimer’s Day is an important global event, providing an opportunity to raise awareness of the issues faced by those living with dementia mate wareware, their whānau, carers and care providers.
Given the growing number of Kiwis who will be living with dementia mate wareware in the future, raising awareness is increasingly important. By 2050 it’s estimated the number of people living with dementia mate wareware will rise from 70,000 to 170,000. The rate of increase will be even faster for some population groups, such as Māori, Pacific and Asian people, largely due to improvements in life expectancy.
In Aotearoa New Zealand, dementia mate wareware touches a wide section of our population – with around four out of five people connected to someone living with it. Kiwis, mostly family members, also provide over one million hours of unpaid care every week.1
As Aged Care Commissioner, the provision of meaningful support for people living with dementia mate wareware is an issue I remain focused on. In my hui with older people and their whānau over the past year, I’ve heard stories about the challenges people with dementia mate wareware and their whānau face accessing health and disability services. We need new innovative models of care that support people to maintain their independence and quality of life. Funding in the 2022 budget for the Dementia Mate Wareware Action Plan is a positive step but we need sustained funding to make a real difference.
This year’s World Alzheimer’s month theme ‘never too early never too late’ highlights the importance of identifying risk factors and adopting proactive risk reduction measures to delay, or even prevent, the onset of dementia mate wareware. Focusing on prevention will help us meet the challenge we face with rising numbers of people living with dementia mate wareware and will support their quality of life. This also includes ongoing risk reduction measures for those who have already received a diagnosis.
The risk of dementia mate wareware increases with age but evidence suggests there are several modifiable risks. Prevention measures include: keeping active and eating a healthy diet, participating in enjoyable/new activities, staying socially connected, checking hearing and not smoking. There is now a growing awareness that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can start years prior to symptoms.
This Alzheimer’s Day, I encourage you all to think about your own modifiable risks, or those of family members, and consider what measures you could take to delay or reduce the onset of dementia mate wareware.
1 Key facts. Alzheimers New Zealand. https://alzheimers.org.nz/explore/facts-and-figures/