Dementia crisis looms

McCusker Charitable Foundation specialist dementia nurse Karen Malone. Picture: Elle Borgward d408119
McCusker Charitable Foundation specialist dementia nurse Karen Malone. Picture: Elle Borgward d408119

Swan ranks third in the State with an estimated 2123 people with dementia living in the area, but the organisation projects that amount will increase by about 50 per cent by 2030.

Dementia is caused by brain disease, most commonly Alzheimer’s disease, and is not a normal consequence of ageing.

In June, 2011, Amana Living launched the McCusker Nurse Service to offer free support to the carers of those living with dementia. While the service has been available only to people living in the northern suburbs of metropolitan Perth, funding was recently secured to hire another nurse to be based in the southern suburbs.

McCusker nurse Karen Malone (pictured) said the demand for the service was great and she had helped almost 450 clients since she began the role just more than two years ago.

‘I found a lot of the time when I went to visit families where there were some behaviours that were challenging, a lot of the carers were struggling with service or did not know about what was going on or the aged care industry,’ Ms Malone said.

‘Caring for a loved one with dementia is isolating and carers often don’t get the opportunity to get a break to see what else is available; they rely on contact with GPs and a multitude of places.’

Ms Malone said while the safety of the person with dementia was vital, carers also had to be aware of their own needs.

‘The biggest thing is to look after themselves because carers of loved ones with dementia are at a four times greater risk of fatigue and depression than any other caring group,’ she said.

‘They need to take care of themselves because they will wear out long before the person living with dementia.’

A recent report by Alzheimer’s Australia found about half of Alzheimer’s disease cases were potentially attributable to risk factors people could change, such as physical inactivity.

Chief executive Rhonda Parker said while there was currently no cure, scientific research showed it may be possible to reduce a person’s risk of developing dementia, or delay the onset, by taking
action early in life.

‘It can be as simple as going for a walk, eating more fruit and vegetables or looking after your cholesterol and blood pressure,’ she said.


– It is estimated more than
320,000 Australians are living
with dementia, or about 1 in 11
people over the age of 65.
– Without a significant medical
breakthrough, Australians with
dementia is expected to be
about 900,00 by 2050.
– About 13 per cent of
Alzheimer’s disease cases
worldwide were found to be
attributable to physical inactivity.
– The latest Australian Health
Survey found that only about
one-third of Australian adults
were doing the recommended
amount of physical activity,
and participation fell with age.
Source: Alzheimer’s Australia