Survey reveals Australians' misconceptions about dementia-Xinhua

Survey reveals Australians' misconceptions about dementia

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-04-24 10:52:45

CANBERRA, April 24 (Xinhua) -- A majority of Australians are not confident in their knowledge of how to reduce the risk of developing dementia, a government report has found.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on Wednesday published results of the Dementia Awareness Survey, revealing that 22 percent of Australians mistakenly believe dementia is a normal part of the aging process.

Over 80 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to adopt lifestyle changes if they knew it would help them reduce their risk of dementia but fewer than one-third were confident they knew how to reduce the risk.

Dementia is a term used to describe a group of diseases characterized by gradual impairment of brain function. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia globally, accounting for up to 70 percent of cases globally according to the World Health Organization.

A study published by researchers from the University College London in 2020 found that eliminating risk factors such as smoking tobacco, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and social isolation could prevent 40 percent of dementia cases.

"More than 400,000 Australians are living with dementia and, with this number projected to double by 2058, it's more important than ever for the community to be aware of dementia and take up lifestyle changes that may reduce their dementia risk," AIHW spokesperson Melanie Dunford said in a media release on Wednesday.

The survey, the largest of its kind ever undertaken in Australia, found that over 99 percent of Australians engage in at least one behavior that can reduce their dementia risk but generally did so for other reasons.

Among the more than 5,000 people who completed the survey between July and August 2023, those with higher levels of education, women and those who knew someone with dementia had a higher knowledge of dementia.

A separate report released by the AIHW in 2023 revealed that dementia has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of premature death among older Australians.