The Government is planning a $1.25 million public awareness
campaign with Alzheimers New Zealand to try and draw elderly people
in for early diagnosis of dementia.
It's part of $3.2 million earmarked in this year's Budget to
battle the growing Alzheimers epidemic that experts are predicting
will treble in size over the next 30 years.
Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew said misconceptions about
the condition had led to delays in diagnoses.
"Early symptoms of dementia can include forgetfulness,
struggling for words, changes in thinking or behaviour or
difficulty in being able to look after yourself.
"Unfortunately, a diagnosis of dementia can sometimes be delayed
due to common misconceptions such as forgetfulness being a normal
part of ageing."
Goodhew said about 48,000 people had diagnosed dementia. That
number was expected to rise to 150,000 by 2050.
As well as a public awareness campaign, the Government would
also provide $750,000 for clinical education on the disease and
$1.2 million for dementia training for healthcare workers.
Dementia training can be highly specialised, and concerns over a
lack of qualified carers along with appropriate secure facilities
for patients has many health experts concerned the growing problem
will place a strain on resources.
"The New Zealand Framework for Dementia Care will guide DHBs in
the development of pathways which provide integrated and
coordinated services," Goodhew said.
"It encourages key shifts in dementia care, such as putting the
individual at the centre of their care and providing easy access to
"One important change is that it supports early diagnosis of
dementia so people are able to make plans and decisions about their
own future care."