Government plans Alzheimers campaign Wednesday, 27 November 2013

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 services.

"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."