With the rapid increase in prevalence of dementia internationally and in Australia, there is a need to identify issues for people living with dementia and their carers. There is a high economic impact on families, carers and communities, and an associated stigma and social exclusion.
A changed approach is required from government, providers of care and the community if we are to enhance dementia care in order to improve the social wellbeing and quality of life of those living with dementia and their carers.
There needs to be greater awareness raising of dementia and advocacy for those living with dementia, based on principles of inclusion, integrity and equity. A lack of understanding of dementia contributes to fears and stigmatisation and may lead to subsequent social isolation and exclusion and to delays in seeking diagnosis and support. People with dementia and their families and carers face significant financial impact from the cost of health and social care and from the reduction or loss of income due to their inability to retain or gain employment.
Education programs are required for employers, employees and the public at large to increase understanding and recognition of the rights of people with dementia and reduce discriminatory practices. Fundamental to this is recognition of the capacity of people with dementia and acknowledgement that in the early stages of dementia people have the capacity to make decisions about their future. Education and support regarding these rights are also required for carers and professionals.