Stepping Up: A Social Inclusion Action Plan for Mental Health Reform 2007-2012
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As we age, we all lose some degree of memory function. Unfortunately, with age, the incidence of a specific brain disease called dementia increases dramatically.
Dementia as an illness usually affects short term memory, but it can also cause a loss of other mental faculties, which include judgment, the ability to carry out day to day tasks and even the ability to speak.
In its later stages, dementia can affect the ability to walk safely and swallow.
It can be caused by a disease such as Alzheimer’s disease or by multiple small strokes. The disease lasts 7 to 10 years on average from diagnosis.
However, like all chronic diseases, it can be managed successfully.
There is no cure or drug that modifies the disease process.
Sufferers and their carers benefit from early diagnosis so that future plans can be made. There is medication that can sometimes help the symptoms of dementia.
There are also many community programs to help support the person and their family who are dealing with dementia.
The incidence of dementia doubles every 5 years from age 60 for 1% of the population and increases to 25 to 30 % of 85 year olds suffering some form of the disease.
Dementia is the second leading cause of disability in our community.
If you want to have your memory checked or if you feel a relative needs to be assessed, there are memory clinics in several of the public hospitals.
Please contact your local health service for information on memory clinics and services for people with dementia that are available close to you.