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AIHW releases two reports into dementia hospitalisations and anti-dementia drugs

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released two reports around dementia in 2016-17, finding a decrease in dementia hospital admissions in one study and the other paper revealing older people were being dispensed anti-dementia drugs at a high rate.

The two reports around dementia in 2016-17 from the AIHW found a decrease in dementia hospitalisations and a higher rate of anti-dementia drugs dispensed to older Australians.​​ [Source: Shutterstock]

The first report, Hospital care for people with dementia 2016–17, stated almost 95,000 people were hospitalised for dementia-related hospital admissions compared to a decade ago.

There was a 23 percent decrease in dementia hospital admissions than what was recorded in 2006, reducing from 408 to 313 hospitalisations per 100,000 population.

Additionally, the research found a decrease of 60 percent of unspecified dementia, Alzheimer’s disease numbers stayed the same, an increase of 37 percent for vascular dementia, and a 416 percent increase for delirium with people already diagnosed with dementia.

Nearly 22 percent of hospitalisations had dementia recorded as the principal reason, the other 78 percent of hospital admissions had dementia recorded as an additional diagnosis.

AIHW spokesperson, Richard Juckes, says, “Nine in ten (92 percent) hospitalisations involved at least one overnight stay, with an average length of stay of 13 days.

“Where dementia was an additional diagnosis, the most common principal diagnosis was related to injury (21 percent), and more than one in three (36 percent) of these were for a leg fracture.”

Dementia is a major cause of ill health and death in Australia, affecting nearly 436,000 Australians in 2018 and causing the death of more than 13,700 people in 2017.

People admitted to hospital for their dementia had an average of eight other health conditions, usually affecting the urinary system, 42 percent, and Type 2 diabetes, 24 percent.

Generally, 48 percent of hospital admissions for dementia resulted in the patient going home, one in three patients stayed at the hospital for continued care, one in five patients ended up being moved to a residential aged care facility, and six percent ended up dying as a patient at hospital.

The second report released, Dispensing patterns for anti-dementia medications 2016-17, looked into the dispensing patterns for four anti-dementia medications, the costs to people and the Government.

It is estimated that $20 million was spent on anti-dementia medication in 2016-17 with four prescription medications, Donepezil, Galantamine, Rivastigmine and Memantine, dispensed a total of 546,000 times.

Additionally, the prescription of these anti-dementia medications was provided to people aged 30 and over.

The likelihood of being provided with these anti-dementia drugs was at a higher rate for older Australians.

The report also found that 27 percent, or 15,800 people, were given anti-dementia medications for the first time in 2016-17.

Anti-dementia drugs are usually given to people living with the condition to reduce the severity and progression of dementia systems, cognitively and behaviourally, and to improve their quality of life.

Mr Juckes says, “Donepezil accounted for 65 percent of all anti-dementia medications dispensed, followed by Galantamine (15 percent), Rivastigmine (12 percent) and Memantine (8 percent).

“About 80 percent of anti-dementia medications were prescribed by general practitioners and 42 percent by other medical specialists because people could be prescribed by more than one prescriber.”

You can read the full report on dementia hospitalisations here and the anti-dementia medication report here.


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