Here’s what you need to know about the Economic Impacts of Dementia report.

Highlights

  • This report shows that we have the opportunity to move to new models of care which will improve quality of life and contribute to future savings.
  • This is important because the report also shows that dementia is one of New Zealand’s most significant and growing healthcare challenges – there are over 60,000 people with dementia now and based on this report we now expect that number to almost triple to 170,000 by 2050. And the total cost of dementia to NZ last year was $1.7b and is expected to sky rocket to nearly $5b (in today’s dollars) in just the next few decades.
  • We can’t afford to do nothing – the blueprint for a model of care that would keep people healthier and living in the community for longer already exists in the government’s own NZ Framework for Dementia Care which was released in 2013.
  • We want the government to fully implement the Framework, starting with the Navigator positions outlined in the Framework, alongside post-diagnostic care and high quality information resources.
  • The value of this report is that it shows that making these kinds of changes can have a significant impact. The Deloitte analysis shows that delaying entry to residential care could achieve cost benefit ratios of 6.6 times the original investment.
  • If we make these changes now people living with dementia will have a better quality of life and we could reduce the total cost from close to $5b as currently forecast to something lower and more manageable.
  • This would require investment now to set up new services so that costs can reduce in future – and this is the same approach the government is taking in other areas of social spending such as child welfare.
  • It confirms the global picture outlined by Alzheimers Disease International in 2015 which predicted that numbers of people with dementia in New Zealand will almost triple by 2050.

Numbers of people with dementia

  • In 2016 there were 62287 people with dementia in New Zealand, an increase of 29% in 5 years from 2011 when there were 48182.
  • By 2050 there will be 170212 people with dementia.

Costs of dementia

  • Financial costs of dementia have increased by 75 percent in 5 years – from nearly $1billion in 2011 to $1.7 billion in 2016.
  • Costs are projected to reach $2 billion by 2020 and $4.6 billion by 2050, in today’s dollars

Cost benefit analysis of delaying institutional care

  • If we can put in services and supports to assist people to live healthier lives and to live longer at home, in the long term this will help to contain the growing costs of institutional care
  • The Deloitte Access Economics reports estimates that delaying entry to institutional care has a benefit cost ratio of 6.6

Data vacuum

  • Readers of the report will note the lack of NZ data – the best that can be done is to depend on assumptions drawn from international and Australia research and experiences.
  • We can and must be able to do better for that for this rapidly growing area of health needs. We need a government commitment to record and measure the size and scale of dementia in New Zealand

Alzheimers New Zealand solutions

  • The blueprint for responding to dementia already exists in the government’s New Zealand Framework for Dementia care which was launched in 2013
  • The most important first steps to fully implement the New Zealand Framework for Dementia Care are to establish and fund the Navigator positions outlined in the Framework, alongside post-diagnostic care and good quality information for people with dementia, their families and carers.
  • We also need our local communities to be dementia-friendly so people living with dementia are understood and accepted , and so there is practical support available in their local communities.

Reducing the risk of developing dementia

  • It is important that, where we can, we work together to reduce the modifiable risk factors for dementia
  • We know that what is good for the heart is good for the brain and the best advice is to look after our hearts
    • Get regular exercise
    • Eat well
    • Keep our brains engaged and active
    • Keep socially active
  • There is merging evidence that making these changes would have an impact on the incidence of dementia, albeit a small one

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