Dementia remains Australia’s second leading overall cause of death for the fourth year in a row and leading cause of death for women, according to the ‘2018 Causes of Death Report’ released last month by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The number of deaths from dementia has reportedly increased by 68.6 per cent over the past decade, with the death rate increasing from 32.3 (in 2009) to 41.2 (in 2018) deaths per 100,000 people.
“This trend highlights the importance of dementia research,” NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research Director (NNIDR) Janice Besch said. “The only way to reverse the current trend in dementia mortality is to improve our knowledge of effective prevention strategies and continue our quest to uncover a disease-modifying therapy.”
In 2018 dementia was reportedly also the fifth leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females
“The statistics surrounding dementia in Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are a genuine cause for concern,” Ms Besch said. “Indigenous Australians experience dementia at nearly three times the rate and up to 10 years earlier than the non-indigenous population.”
The Australian government is committed to enhancing dementia research with its $200 million ‘Boosting Dementia Research Initiative’, which the NNIDR is a part of.
Additionally, since the Initiative was announced in 2014, reportedly 156 grants have been committed to 374 Australian researchers across 28 institutions.
This is aimed at facilitating the development of new technologies, such as that of non-invasive assessment methods, including retinal scanning to detect physiological changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.