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Byron Shire
December 6, 2021

Tweed leads the state in dementia numbers

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The Tweed electorate has the highest number of people with dementia in the state: with some 1,842 people estimated to be currently living with the disease and an anticipated 106 per cent increase to 3,794 by 2050, according to a new report.

Other north coast electorates are not far behind, with Clarence on 12th position with 1,527 people currently living with dementia and Ballina on 14th position with 1,469.

Lismore comes in at 25th of the state’s 94 electorates with 1,402.

Coastal electorates dominate the chart, produced for Alzheimers Australia NSW by Deloitte Access Economics.

Alzheimers Australia NSW CEO John Watkins said there is little surprise in that, given the increasing tendency for sea-change retirements.

‘That throws an extra burden onto regional communities like the Tweed because they have to provide more and better facilities, resources and services for those people living in the community with dementia,’ he told ABC radio this morning.

He added that it was inevitable the country would see a substantial increase in numbers of people living with dementia as the baby boomer generation aged.

‘Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia, after heart disease, and there is no cure,’ Mr Watkins said.

He pointed out, however, that while dementia is not reversible it is partially treatable.

And he said most people did not realise that the risk factors for dementia were identical to heart disease: smoking, untreated high blood pressure, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.

‘It’s now known that if you take action in your earlier years – before you hit 60 – to get those issues under control, you’re much more likely to live longer without dementia,’ Mr Watkins said.

Mr Watkins said while dementia was difficult to diagnose in its early stages a significant change in an older person’s habits or routines was often a clue that something was amiss.

Mr Watkins said while dementia was difficult to diagnose in its early stages a significant change in an older person’s habits or routines was often a clue that something was amiss.

‘Dementia can be a very isolating, confusing, confronting and difficult disease to live with,’ he said.

‘But you are not alone. There is a whole range of help available and, with the right support, you can live well with dementia. A great starting point is calling Alzheimer’s Australia NSW on the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

‘Our professional and compassionate staff can talk to you about what is happening, give you advice and strategies for how to manage now and into the future, and point you in the right direction for further support and other services – all for free.

‘Some great programs that have proven to be really helpful include Living with Dementia and Recently Diagnosed, both of which have really proved to be a lifeline to many participants.

‘There is also the new website Living Well with Dementia that contains a whole range of information and tips on how to live well with dementia, and includes personal stories from people who are dealing with it right now.’

To find out more and to access support, call Alzheimer’s Australia NSW on the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500, Monday-Friday during business hours. You can access the Living Well with Dementia website at www.livingwellwithdementia.org.au.

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