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27 Aug 2019

Dementia hospitalised almost 95,000 Australians in 2016-17, with $20 million spent on medications for the condition.

Two new reports from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), show dementia to be a major cause of ill health and death in Australia, affecting up to 436,000 Australians in 2018 and causing more than 13,700 deaths in 2017.

The first report, Hospital care for people with dementia 2016-17, found there were 94,800 admissions to hospital of people with at least one diagnosis of dementia.

Ninety-two per cent of hospitalisations involved at least one overnight stay, with an average length of stay of 13 days.

Dementia was recorded as the principal diagnosis in twenty-two percent of  hospitalisations. For the other 78 per cent of hospitalisations, dementia was recorded as an additional diagnosis.

Most patients hospitalised with dementia had an average of eight additional health conditions, commonly related to the urinary system (42 per cent) and type 2 diabetes (24 per cent).

Where dementia was an additional diagnosis, the most common principal diagnosis was related to injury (21 per cent), and more than one in three (36 per cent) of these were for a leg fracture.

The AIHW also released Dispensing patterns for anti-dementia medications 2016-17, which examines dispensing patterns for four anti-dementia medications and the associated costs to people and the Government.

“These four prescription medications were dispensed a total of 546,000 times in 2016-17, at a cost of $20 million,” AIHW spokesman Richard Juckes said.

The full reports can be found at:


Responding to the research, Dementia Australia released two companion reports analysing the key issues highlighted by the AIHW.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said the AIHW reports reinforce that more needs to be done to provide quality care for people living with dementia.

“With the number of people living with dementia expected to increase to an estimated 1.1 million by 2058, this data reinforces for us that we must act now to improve medication management and support for people living with dementia in hospital environments,” Ms McCabe said.

Dementia Australia’s paper Medication use by people living with dementia makes a number of recommendations including that anti-psychotics are used as a last resort and quality training in dementia care is provided for all staff working in hospitals.

Dementia Australia’s paper Hospital care for people living with dementia includes recommendations that the physical environment of hospitals adheres to dementia-friendly design principles and that hospitals provide mandatory staff training in dementia.

Both reports can be accessed at:


Published: 27 Aug 2019