• The 109 recommendations devised by specialists in conjunction with the National Health and Medical Research Council aim to improve dementia diagnosis and will be launched by the Federal Government on Wednesday.
• We are living longer than ever before, but for many people, the so-called golden years are hijacked by Alzheimer’s disease. Experts at the World Science Festival in Brisbane fear there may never be a cure for the debilitating disease, but say a preventative vaccine could be on the horizon.
• The old Royal Adelaide Hospital site should be considered as a possible location for a proposed world-class contemporary art gallery, the Lord Mayor of Adelaide has said.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 15th of March 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
The first comprehensive guidelines for the treatment of Australian dementia patients have urged doctors not to dismiss early symptoms of the disease such as memory loss as “just a part of ageing”.
The 109 recommendations devised by specialists in conjunction with the National Health and Medical Research Council aim to improve dementia diagnosis and will be launched by the Federal Government on Wednesday.
A report published online [yesterday] in the Medical Journal of Australia by the guidelines’ authors found the “quality of clinical practice in dementia care in Australia is variable”.
“The availability of high-quality services to support workforce training, diagnosis and ongoing care, advance care planning and support for families to provide care is inconsistent,” it said.
Lead author Dr Kate Laver said the purpose of the guidelines was not to paint a “grim picture” of the system, and said cases of extreme neglect were rare.
While diagnosing dementia can be difficult, the recommendations aim to make it easier by suggesting medical students and carers undergo specialised training.
Some of the key guidelines include:
- Timely diagnosis by recommending that symptoms are explored when first raised … and are not dismissed as “just a part of ageing”
- A systematic approach to diagnosing dementia [including] history taking, cognitive assessment, … blood tests
- A review of people with mild cognitive impairment after six to 18 months
- Clinical cognitive assessment [including] examination with a screening tool with established reliability and validity
- Families [being] included in the planning, decision making, care and management of people with dementia
The guidelines also advise against prescribing anti-psychotic drugs to people with “mild to moderate behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia” because of the increased risk of adverse health effects and death.
About 380,000 Australians currently have dementia, including 9 per cent of those aged 65 and older.
The number is expected to reach almost 1 million by 2050.
We are living longer than ever before, but for many people, the so-called golden years are hijacked by Alzheimer’s disease.
Experts at the World Science Festival in Brisbane fear there may never be a cure for the debilitating disease, but say a preventative vaccine could be on the horizon.
A forum on the disease was told a vaccine is especially important for those who are vulnerable to the early-onset form of the disease, which can strike people from the age of 18.
Florey Institute of Neuroscience director Professor Ashley Bush said early detection and prevention were key.
“Twenty-five per cent of the brain can die from Alzheimer’s; once a person is demented, it’s too late,” he said.
“So far, brain trials have been too optimistic.
Stress, mental illness, inflammation and poor health have all been linked to the disease, brought about through a toxic build-up of proteins in the learning and memory parts of the brain.
Professor Bush said the brain was like a car engine.
“When something starts to go wrong, everything goes wrong,” he said.
Professor Jurgen Gotz, the director at the Clem Jones Centre for Aging Dementia Research, is trialling ultrasound technology to treat sufferers.
He and Professor Bush are both doubtful there will ever be a cure for Alzheimer’s, but agree failures are just as important as successes in clinical science.
Professor Gotz said a possible vaccine that may hold the key to successful prevention was on the horizon.
The old Royal Adelaide Hospital site should be considered as a possible location for a proposed world-class contemporary art gallery, the Lord Mayor of Adelaide has said.
A proposal for a $250 million art gallery, near the Festival Centre along the River Torrens, is being considered by the South Australian Government.
Art Gallery of South Australia director Nick Mitzevich, who is championing the idea, believes the gallery would attract 500,000 visitors in its first year, draw businesses to the city, and also create jobs.
Mr Mitzevich said at the weekend that the proposal would help the state face its economic challenges.
Lord Mayor Martin Haese said he supported the proposal and favoured using the old hospital on North Terrace, which could reduce construction costs.
“Possibly that could be done at less cost, by repurposing one of the existing character buildings with a very modern contemporary extension; maybe that could be an option,” Mr Haese said.
He said the gallery would be best suited to North Terrace.
“You’ve got the Art Gallery, you’ve got the South Australian Museum, you’ve got the State Library, you’ve got our universities, and to have something of cultural significance facing right on to North Terrace, we believe it’s very important,” he said.
Construction on the new Royal Adelaide Hospital is continuing, with the State Government scheduling its opening for November.