Dementia diagnosis and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

How can dementia diagnosis and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people be improved?

CPD Hours: 1.5
Current as at 06 June 2022
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people experience dementia at a rate three to five times higher than the general Australian population. Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) have a critical role to play in recognising symptoms of cognitive impairment, facilitating timely diagnosis of dementia, and managing the impacts of dementia. Little is known about the barriers and enablers to Aboriginal people receiving a timely dementia diagnosis and appropriate care.

Tags:

Explore the barriers to diagnosis of dementia among Australian Aboriginal Community

Course Content

In Australia, it is projected that the number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (henceforth referred to as ‘Aboriginal’) people aged 55 years and over will be between 124,900 and 130,800 by 2026 (more than double the number from 2011).1Given the increase in the aging population among Aboriginal communities, age-related disorders such as dementia are expected to rise.

Australian Aboriginal people have a dementia prevalence 3– 5 times higher than the general Australian population. Dementia impacts memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities. Along with lifestyle factors, co-morbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, obesity and depression are also associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia among both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Longitudinal risk factors for cognitive impairment and dementia are age and head injury.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) have a critical role to play in recognising symptoms of cognitive impairment, facilitating timely diagnosis of dementia, and managing the impacts of dementia. Little is known about the barriers and enablers to Aboriginal people receiving a timely dementia diagnosis and appropriate care once diagnosed.

This study aims to explore, from the perspective of healthcare providers in the ACCHS sector across urban, regional and remote communities, the barriers and enablers to the provision of dementia diagnosis and care. In conclusion, this research identifies that there is an urgent need to implement health promotion programs to raise community awareness about dementia among the Aboriginal population and reinforce the benefits of healthy lifestyles on dementia. Importantly, families need support when caring for family members with dementia and current aged care facilities are not available. Aged care and dementia-specific services for Aboriginal communities should integrate family, culture and community into their service delivery model. This includes the “Country” as a holistic concept that encapsulates social and ancestral connections to place, it is central to cultural identity. For Aboriginal people, being “on Country” is restorative, empowering, and healing.

Learning Outcomes

In this session, you will:

  • Explore the barriers to diagnosis of dementia among the Australian Aboriginal Community
  • Investigate the enablers to the provision of dementia diagnosis and care
  • Review the research study that explored the concept of dementia among the Australian Aboriginal Community
  • Gain an understanding of the barriers to high-quality dementia care

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