Tweed dementia rate highest in state

TWEED Heads has the highest rate of dementia cases in the state and it's predicted this number will more than triple in coming decades, according to new figures out today.

THE report, commissioned by Alzheimer's Australia NSW, found the Tweed area had the highest incidence of dementia in NSW with 1608 cases this year, increasing to a projected 7451 in 41 years.

People retiring to the Tweed were expected to drive the rise by 360 per cent by the year 2050, the report said.

Manager of aged care services at the Tweed Valley Respite Service, Bronwyn Mitchell, said respite services were crucial for dementia sufferers.

“Our biggest concern is getting information out there for people at every stage of dementia,” Mrs Mitchell said.

“Life does not end for those diagnosed with dementia and respite services give carers a break and sufferers meaningful purpose in their life.”

She said the Kingscliff-based organisation offered many services including an advisory service for those wanting information on the condition, support programs for carers and sufferers and social groups.

“The social groups are for people who are still participating in the community but need a little bit of assistance,” Mrs Mitchell said.

The biggest problem for the Tweed Valley service was the lack of services they can offer clients.

“Getting clients to specialised services that aren't offered in the area is a big problem,” Mrs Mitchell said.

The report predicted that dementia increases would be most prevalent in regional and rural New South Wales, although it was possible for sufferers to lead a normal life.

John Watkins, CEO of Alzheimer's Australia NSW, said funding was urgently needed for more services and research.

“That means a heavy burden of community care, aged residential care, service delivery, respite and support services for people with dementia will fall on regional NSW which, generally, does not receive the same level of service as in the city,” Mr Watkins said.

“Dementia is the disease of the century and it is going to have a huge impact on the health and social welfare system.”

The report will be launched at a briefing to NSW MPs at Parliament House tonight.

Mr Watkins said that the ageing population meant every state electorate in NSW could expect to experience significant growth in the number of people with dementia.

“We also need to ensure the planning for future service delivery is based on where the burden is going to fall,” he said.

Currently, 245,000 people have dementia in Australia, projected to double by 2030.

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