Aged Care

Urgent call for more palliative care investment as dementia cases grow in Australia


Dementia has become the biggest health issue facing Australians over 65, calling for greater investment in palliative care.

According to new data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), dementia has now become the biggest health issue facing Australians over 65 years old, overtaking coronary heart disease as the leading cause of disease burden among older Australians. As a result, there is an urgent need for greater investment in quality of life at the end of life, said Camilla Rowland, Chief Executive Officer of Palliative Care Australia (PCA).

Rowland stresses the need for better integration of dementia care and palliative care so that the 400,000 Australians currently living with dementia can make the most of their lives. For many, this will mean many years of quality living and relationships. However, the demand for palliative care will grow further as people and families living with dementia seek more out of life.

“Our own data points to the growing need for palliative care, KPMG report that demand will increase by 50% in the coming decade and double by 2050.

“As people and families living with dementia seek more out of life, demand for palliative care will grow further,” Rowland added.

To meet this growing demand, PCA is calling for palliative care to be available from the time of diagnosis, with immediate support for those diagnosed with dementia through person-centred care and connections to medical teams, allied health professionals and social workers to help them navigate their next steps.

PCA’s submission as part of a recent consultation on the development of a National Dementia Action Plan highlights the need for palliative care to be made available early in the dementia journey, not just in the final weeks or days of life. The Aged Care Royal Commission has also recommended that palliative and dementia care be embedded in aged care.

Palliative Care Australia’s May 2023 Budget Submission presents the actions and investments needed to train existing and new staff and increase access to palliative care. With the number of Australians living with dementia expected to double by 2058, Rowland stresses the urgency of greater investment in palliative care to address the biggest health issue of the 21st century.

“We look forward to continuing our work with our friends at Dementia Australia so that more Australians have access to the care and support they deserve,” Rowland said.

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.


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