Although it is not known exactly how many Australians have dementia, it is estimated to affect up to 436,000 people. In 2017, dementia caused more than 13,700 deaths and was the second-leading cause of death in Australia, behind coronary heart disease (18,600 deaths). Dementia is the leading cause of death for females.

Dementia is not one specific disease, but a term used to describe a group of conditions characterised by the gradual impairment of brain function. There are many different forms of dementia—Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. Although dementia can affect younger people, it occurs mainly among those aged over 65, and is a major cause of disability and dependency among older people. This report focuses on hospital care provided for people with dementia in Australia in 2016–17; whether the number of hospitalisations has increased over the past decade; and the outcome of these hospitalisations.

This report shows that in 2016–17:

  • there were about 94,800 hospitalisations of people who had at least 1 diagnosis of dementia
  • the majority (71%) of dementia hospitalisations were of the highest clinical complexity compared with 16% of hospitalisations without a diagnosis of dementia
  • the rate of dementia hospitalisations has decreased by almost a quarter in the last decade.
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