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May 5, 2009

Australia could be facing a shortage of more than 150,000 carers for dementia sufferers within 20 years, according to a new report.

It is estimated that 465,000 Australians will be living with dementia by 2030.

Analysis by Access Economics, based on current polices, points to a major shortage of both paid and unpaid carers.

The chief executive of Alzheimer’s Australia, Glen Rees, says governments cannot afford to ignore the issue.

“Those beds that exist in hospitals in residential care will be harder and harder to access; the wrong people will be in them,” he said.

“The better approach would be for governments now to realise that support for carers good community care will in the end lead to more cost-effective and quality of life solutions.”

Mr Rees says the number of dementia sufferers will almost double over next two decades and governments must act swiftly.

“If the Government starts thinking now about the community services it needs, the residential care services it needs and support programs for carers into the future, we believe that the problem could be manageable,” he said.

“But it certainly won’t be if we leave it another 10 years.”

The former New South Wales deputy premier, John Watkins, is now head of Alzheimer’s Australia in that state.

He says the Government must act now to address the huge financial impact that dementia will have on the economy.

“It’s an extraordinary situation we are facing; Australia has never faced a social health issue like the threat of dementia before,” he said.

“It seems trite to say it but this is an avalanche that is coming our way.”

The report recommends a national savings scheme be introduced, on top of superannuation, to help fund the future care of people with dementia.

Tags: community-and-society, aged-care, government-and-politics, health, diseases-and-disorders, alzheimers-and-dementia, australia, act


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