Dementia rates on the increase

LATEST figures show the number of people living with dementia in NSW is rising.

In the Baulkham Hills, Castle Hill, Hawkesbury and Parramatta state electorates an estimated 3580 people now have dementia.

This is expected to increase to 4720 by 2020 and 12,600 by 2050.

Alzheimer's Australia NSW chief executive John Watkins said given the projections, we must act now to ensure there were better care and support services for people with dementia and their families.

"Dementia is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain and is the third leading cause of death in Australia," he said.

"We need to build better community and residential care facilities, better support systems and decrease the stigma and social isolation that often comes with the disease."

Hedley Hall couldn't agree more. He said when he was first diagnosed he wasn't sure where or who to turn to.

"I wasn't aware of any support groups," Mr Hall said.

He said was it was "very fortuitous" that not long after he learnt of his condition, Westmead Hospital dementia adviser Sue Tolhurst gave a guest talk at the over 55s village where he lives.

She oversees the Western Sydney Dementia Advisory Service who provide activities, support and education for people with dementia and their carers in The Hills, Auburn, Blacktown, Holroyd and Parramatta local government areas.

■ Western Sydney Dementia Advisory Service: Email sue.tolhurst@swahs.health.nsw.gov.au for more information.

■ National Dementia Helpline: Call 1800 100 500.

■ Hills Community Care: 9761 5723.

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