Worrying dementia stats for Mandurah, Peel region

With more than 3000 people living with dementia in the Canning region, the community are being urged to increase their understanding of the “isolating” disease.

The Inclusion and Isolation: The contrasting community attitudes to dementia survey was released last month to coincide with World Alzheimer’s Day – and contained some worrying messages.

In the Federal electorate of Canning, which includes Mandurah, Pinjarra and the wider Murray district, there are an estimated 3,121 people living with dementia currently.

This is projected to increase to 4,518 by 2028 and 8,296 by 2058.

Across Australia there are estimated to be more than 250 new cases every day, with more than 436,000 people living with the disease nationwide.

Knowledge of dementia – which is the second leading cause of death in Australia – is on the rise, however people report they are challenged as to how to support or communicate with someone living with the disease.

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Dementia Australia chief executive Maree McCabe said one of the biggest issues people face following a diagnosis of dementia is social isolation.

“Dementia can be one of the most profoundly isolating conditions, despite the fact it is impacting so many people,” she said.

“What has been heartening to see, though, is that 80 per cent of people surveyed had heard of dementia and, of those people, a further three in four people were able to correctly identify basic facts about dementia.

“Despite this knowledge, it is concerning that four out of five people surveyed believe that others feel uncomfortable around people with dementia and two in three believe that individuals have a negative perception of people with dementia.

“When we explored this further in the survey, it really came down to people saying they just weren’t sure how to talk to someone with dementia.

“More than 60 per cent of people said they didn’t know what to say to someone with dementia, while more than 50 per cent said they were worried they wouldn’t be understood, that they would say the wrong thing or that they might hurt the feelings of a person living with dementia.”

The organisation are urging people to become a ‘Dementia Friend’ by undertaking an education program to better understand the disease.

More than 5,000 Australians have already signed up – for more information visit www.dementiafriendly.org.au.