Key facts and statistics - Vic

Dementia is the term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses which cause a progressive decline in a person’s cognitive ability.

It is a broad term used to describe a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and physical functioning.

There are many types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, fronto temporal dementia and dementia with Lewy Bodies. Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common after the age of 65.

Australian statistics

  • There are more than 353,800 Australians living with dementia
  • This number is expected to increase by one third to 400,000 in less than ten years
  • Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to be almost 900,000 by 2050
  • Each week, there are 1,700 new cases of dementia in Australia; approx. one person every 6 minutes. This is expected to grow to 7,400 new cases each week by 2050
  • There are approximately 24,400 people in Australia with Younger Onset Dementia (a diagnosis of dementia under the age of 65; including people as young as 30)
  • Three in ten people over the age of 85 and almost one in ten people over 65 have dementia
  • An estimated 1.2 million people are involved in the care of a person with dementia
  • Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and there is no cure
  • On average symptoms of dementia are noticed by families three years before a firm diagnosis is made

The impact of dementia in Australia

  • Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians (aged 65 years or older) and the third leading cause of disability burden overall
  • Australia faces a shortage of more than 150,000 paid and unpaid carers for people with dementia by 2029
  • Total direct health and aged care system expenditure on people with dementia was at least $4.9 billion in 2009-10
  • Dementia will become the third greatest source of health and residential aged care spending within two decades. These costs alone will be around 1% of GDP
  • By the 2060s, spending on dementia is set to outstrip that of any other health condition. It is projected to be $83 billion (in 2006-07 dollars), and will represent around 11% of health and residential aged care sector spending
  • More than 50% of residents in Australian Government-subsidised aged care facilities have dementia (104,400 out of 198,500 permanent residents in 2008-09)

Research funding

  • The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) allocated $21.5 million for dementia research in 2012-2013
  • For that same period the NHMRC provided funding of $162.4 million on cancer research; $93.6 million on cardiovascular disease research; $63 million on diabetes research; and $55.1 million on mental health research
  • There is a lack of capacity development in the dementia research field. Between 2002 and 2011, there were only 56 grants, scholarships and fellowships awarded to new and early-career dementia researchers through the NHMRC. In comparison, new researcher awards over the same period in cancer, cardiovascular disease, mental health and diabetes were 706, 488, 271 and 223 respectively.

International statistics

  • Worldwide, there are more than 36 million people with dementia today and 115 million predicted by 2050
  • In high income countries only 20-50% of people with dementia are recognised and documented in primary care
  • The total estimated worldwide costs of dementia were US$604 billion in 2010
  • If dementia were a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy