The dementia statistics of Australia are scary, not only because of the enormous personal cost but because of the looming demand for frontline professionals and others trained to recognise symptoms.
“As well as aged care professionals, we are going to need to equip many people in the wider workforce with knowledge about dementia,” Ms Hee says.
“Those who could be trained range from town planners and social workers to doctor’s receptionists and personal trainers.”
How common is dementia in Australia?
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), there were 342,800 Australians estimated to have dementia in 2015.
1 in 10 Australians aged 65 and over had dementia in 2015 (10%). For those aged 85 and over, the number was 3 in 10 (31%).
Ms Hee says, “One of the expected consequences of an ageing population in Australia is an increase in the number of people with dementia over time, with projections estimating numbers may increase to around 900,000 cases by 2050.”
Ms Hee is co-author of the recently released e-book titled Practical Insights into Caring for Someone with Dementia.
Does health insurance cover dementia?
There are two aspects to this question.
First, depending on your choice of cover and choice of insurer, health insurance can offer cover for psychiatric treatment or psychological care. But drugs should always be a last resort, says Alzheimer’s Australia. Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia are more often the result of unreported pain, illness, drug interactions, and environmental factors than a result of a psychiatric condition.
CANSTAR’s analysis of more than 58,000 visitors that have actively searched for specific health insurance policies on the canstar.com.au website in 2016 to date has uncovered some insights into what consumers are looking for with regards to their insurance. One popular inclusion that visitors are commonly looking for is cover for psychiatric care.
Tasmanians are the most likely to seek psychiatric care coverage within their health insurance policy, with 12% of Tasmanian-based searches specifically filtering policies according to this inclusion. The next-highest state was Victoria, at 7.4% of searches. All other states fell between 3% and 6% of visitors specifically wanting psychiatric care within their health insurance policy.
Secondly, although health insurance can cover stays in hospital caused by dementia, it does not cover residential aged care or aged care at home for someone with dementia. This is unfortunate, because as the AIHW points out, more than 50% of people living in government-funded aged care homes in 2013-14 had dementia.
Does life insurance cover dementia?
Yes, a good quality life insurance policy is something that can make a difference for the family of those with dementia.
First, trauma insurance (a type of cover usually included in a life insurance package) can help cover the immediate expenses that arise from a diagnosis of dementia. It’s not just medical expenses – for example, the family home may require renovations or modifications if a family member with dementia is going to continue living there.
Secondly, upon a person with dementia passing away, the death cover (known as ‘term life’) in most packaged life insurance policies would cover a lump sum to cover funeral costs and to care for any children left behind.