Program to fight Indigenous dementia

A program, launched last week to help tackle alcohol-related dementia in the indigenous community, is a “well overdue” initiative.

The message came from Scott Wilson of the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (ADAC) in Adelaide who says the program, launched by ADAC hopes to teach teenagers about the dangers of undiagnosed dementia.

“Up until now there haven’t been any resources that are culturally-appropriate that actually target young Aboriginal people around alcohol-related issues, including dementia and acquired brain injury," Mr Wilson told DPS eNews.

He says action to create the program was taken by the council after the review of a federal government study which showed Aboriginal people were up to five times more likely than others to develop dementia.

The program, first funded in 2009, includes various efforts to help raise awareness of alcohol-related dementia.

The program provides a facilitator’s handbook which was published for health and aged care workers’ to reference information on alcohol-related dementia. A DVD was also produced, featuring young Aboriginal people acting out a range of issues a person with alcohol-related dementia could face.

Mr Wilson says young people in the indigenous community are drinking at levels that are harmful to their health and raises a big challenge.

“When they have had a few (drinks), inhibitions tend to drop and the potential of getting into fights is pretty high,” he says.

According to Mr Wilson, a recent survey which revealed 1.6 million young Australians admit they go out to “get drunk”, was alarming yet interesting.

“The unfortunate story behind this is they leave themselves open to a whole range of problems including accidents and getting into fights,” he says.

“When young people are out drinking and fall over or hit their head, unfortunately it could lead to alcohol-related dementia.”

Mr Wilson says the launch of the program has brought a new dimension to health and community work by addressing the “significant gap” in the indigenous community.

He says a greater awareness of alcohol-related dementia needed to be raised in the community to prevent young Aboriginal people from being forced to enter aged care facilities prematurely.

The Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council are collaborating with Alzheimer’s South Australia to strengthen the newly launched program and continue to raise the profile of alcohol-related dementia.