The number of Melton residents living with dementia is expected to increase by a whopping 1440 per cent in the next three decades, according to Alzheimer’s Australia.
While the figures reveal a sharp rise in dementia cases across Victoria, a growing and ageing population is likely to contribute to a significant jump in Melton.
Almost 15,000 Melton residents will have dementia by 2050, compared with the 1000 in 2015, according to the agency.
Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria chief executive Maree McCabe said dementia wasn’t about age – with people as young as 30 being diagnosed – or socio-economic status. And while dementia was not a normal process of ageing, it was becoming more and more common, Ms McCabe said.
“One in 13 people who live with dementia are actually under the age of 65,” she said. “But there are also people in their 30s, 40s and 50s diagnosed. What people might not know is that dementia is the second leading cause of death after heart disease.”
Ms McCabe said her team was focused on reducing the risk factors and rates of progression. And while there’s no guarantee any of it will work, there’s “increasing evidence” that an improved lifestyle may reduce a person’s chances of getting dementia.
“Some of those risk reductions are looking after our heart … making sure our blood pressure and cholesterol are at healthy levels, having a good diet, avoiding habits like smoking, and ensuring we exercise our body and brain,” she said.
People with dementia report stigmatisation and social isolation, which can “exacerbate the challenges”.
Ms McCabe said Alzheimer’s Australia clients reported dementia was “the most isolating condition”.
Dementia-friendly spaces and communities are essential for the wellbeing of patients, Ms McCabe said.
“We use things like colour, lighting and texture … a space that’s dementia-friendly is friendly for almost everyone.”
Call the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500.