Dementia becomes the second biggest killer in Australia

The disease is also expected to become our leading cause of death within five years. In the latest annual report on death, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released figures showing that 12,625 people died from the disease last year alone.

In 2015, the death rate for dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, jumped to 40.1 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 28.6 in 2006.

It’s also the only one of the top three causes of death that is continuing to climb, with deaths from heart disease (No. 1) and stroke (No. 3) both decreasing over recent years.

Many people are unaware that dementia is a fatal disease, with most people affected dying from complications like malnutrition, lower immunity and loss of mobility when it progresses to the final stages.

Alzheimer’s Australia and the ABS say our ageing population, combined with a longer life expectancy, are to blame for the higher figures.

Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Maree McCabe says: “The greatest risk factor for dementia is age and the number of people aged over 80 are expected to double in the next 20 years.”

But dementia is not just a disease that affects only older people. There are also around 25,000 Australians under 65 living with the disease.

Researchers argue the key factor in living longer with dementia is seeking an early diagnosis and gaining access to treatment faster. However, studies have also found many people avoid getting a diagnosis for up to a year or more.

This is usually out of fear that they will have to go into aged care or will be unable to live their lives in the same way they did before, something which is generally not the case.
Most people also have a strong belief that dementia is a normal part of ageing and something that just happens – it’s not.


It’s well worth learning more about the early signs of dementia and seeking medical advice and support if you are concerned about yourself, a family member or friend.

There is a national hotline that can provide assistance and advice: National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500 (interpreter service available)

Find out more about the warning signs of dementia here.

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A special thanks to our contributors

Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.