Quick Facts on Dementia in NZ
on 05-Aug-2019

Quick Facts About Dementia in NZ

Almost 70,000 Kiwis are living with dementia today. 

Dementia is the diagnosis Kiwis most fear, after Cancer.

Only around 50% of people with dementia have a diagnosis. This means that there are potentially a further 50% of people with dementia in New Zealand that have not yet been diagnosed making the numbers above significantly higher.

The estimated population with dementia grew by 29% between 2011 and 2016

This growth is largely due to the aging population. However, while ageing is a risk factor for dementia, someone who is older will not necessarily get dementia. Common conditions that carry a higher risk of dementia, such as diabetes, obesity, drug and alcohol issues and intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome will add to this growth.

More than 170,000 Kiwis will be living with dementia by 2050, making up over 2.6% of the population, and more than triple current numbers.

Dementia impacts more women than men - around 30% higher.

Dementia impacts 4 out of 5 New Zealanders, including family members.

The total cost of dementia to NZ is now around $1.7b. There was a 75% increase in Government and other associated costs for dementia that occurred between 2011 and 2016. These costs are projected to reach almost $5 billion by 2050. The associated health and social care costs of dementia almost match the costs of cancer, heart disease and stroke combined.

The informal value of carers, who are removed fully or partially from the workforce to care for someone with dementia, was estimated at $37.7 million.

The magnitude of prevalence and costs of dementia make it one of the most significant public health burdens in New Zealand. As such, it needs to be one of the priorities for policy-makers, but sadly, it is not, at present, a government priority.

About 70% of people with dementia are living at home.

People with dementia can live well with the condition if they have good support.

People with dementia battle with symptoms of profound and progressive behaviour change, yet always, with support, have the potential to be active members of the community – working, volunteering, attending events and socialising.

New models of care that keep people healthier at home for longer could achieve cost benefit ratios of 6.6 times the value of investment. 

Effective measures to lower the risk of dementia have the potential to delay or prevent around 35% of dementia cases. These include - Childhood education below age 12; active treatment of mid-life hypertension; increased physical activity; social engagement; reduced smoking; management of hearing loss, as well as management of late-life depression, diabetes and obesity, can all help to reduce levels of dementia.