Dementia as important as diabetes

Dementia needs to be approached in the same way as diabetes, a Gold Coast psychiatrist said last week.

Professor Philip Morris appeared before a House of Representatives inquiry into early diagnosis and intervention on dementia.

According to the latest government data, nearly 175,000 Australians had dementia in 2003, a figure expected to rise to 465,000 by 2031, partly due to Australia's ageing population.

While there was no cure for dementia, Professor Morris urged the nation's approach to the disease to “emulate” the approach taken on diabetes to help more patients be able to live well.

He also encouraged doctors’ negative attitude in treating the disease be changed. “I take the view that there is a lot we can do - in diabetes, certainly, there's a lot you can do,” Professor Morris said.

“Now (doctors are) expected to know what are you going to do for the education of the (diabetes) patient, the rehabilitation for the individual, the potential for their vocational career. I think that's where we need to move to on dementia,” he added.

Professor Morris claimed some doctors’ attitudes to dementia also meant the medications available to help patients live with the disease may not be prescribed to all patients who could use the medicinal help.

He said another perception, that dementia and Alzheimer's disease was a part of ageing, was also hindering attitudes to the problems.

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