Valley dementia cases to double by 2050

MORE than 1500 people are living with dementia in the Clarence electorate - a figure set to more than double by 2050.

Alzheimer's Australia NSW research found the region was home to the 12th most dementia cases of the state's 93 state electorates.

OUR SAY: Services need to keep with rising age of population

Yet like much of regional New South Wales, its choice of aged care services falls well behind those of Sydney.

"Before we first did this, we didn't know where people with dementia were living," Alzheimer's Australia NSW chief John Watkins said.

"The fact that the North Coast is such a hot point means we can really channel our representations and make sure the elected representatives know what is happening.

"The North Coast faces the typical challenges of regional communities - lack of choice, fewer specialists and fewer choices when it comes to home care and nursing homes.

"Where I'm sitting now in Ryde, within a 5km radius there would be a dozen nursing homes with dementia care.

"I don't reckon there is anywhere on the North Coast like that."

The research, prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, estimates there are 1527 people with dementia living in the Clarence in 2016.

It predicts there will be 1568 next year, increasing to 1697 by 2020.

Between now and 2050, it forecasts a 105% increase to 3123 dementia patients in the electorate.

Statewide figures show serious planning is needed.

The current 115,000 people with the syndrome in NSW is expected to blow out to 272,500 by 2050 unless a cure or significant medical breakthrough is found.

Families dealing with the effects of dementia had a scare last year when the Northern NSW Local Health District was due to lose funding for its dementia outreach service.

Funding was eventually extended until mid-2017, but carers worry the program will be handed over to private care providers after a bidding war to find the lowest price.

Mr Watkins said Alzheimer's Australia was "agnostic" about who provided the services, as long as they were affordable and up to scratch.

"Our chief view is that if there's a service currently operating, it can't be removed," he said.

"The real problem isn't whether it is public or private - it's that there simply isn't enough."

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