March 2014


Dr John Tooth is a celebrated medico who established the ground breaking ADARDS in Tasmania some years ago.  Tooth believed in treating people with dementia in such a way so as to enhance their declining sense of being an individual.  Unfortunately politicians killed off ADARDS despite it winning plaudits from across the globe.

This week Tooth released a plea to Labor, Liberal and the Greens urging all of them to deal with the looming dementia crisis facing this fast aging state.  According to the ABS at "June 2011, there were 82,100 people aged 65 years and over in Tasmania, making up 16.1% of the state's total population. This was an increase from 13.8% in 2001. Tasmania had the highest proportion of people aged 65 years and over among the states and territories, just ahead of South Australia (15.9%)."

Calling it the "elephant in the room" in this election campaign Tooth paints a daunting picture of the increasing impact of dementia on Australia.

"The figures quoted by Alzheimers Australia in July 2013 are alarming. There are presently more than 321,600 Australians living with dementia. Unless international research finds a prophylaxis for the onset of dementia within the next few years, this number is expected to rise to 900,000 by the year 2050, that is, an increase of 1,700 new cases per week. Modern societies such as Tasmania will not be able to cope with this number of people with dementia. Most of these will be able to be accommodated in Commonwealth-funded nursing homes but the 2% who have difficult behaviour which has traditionally been the responsibility of the State Government, have (as usual in Tasmania) been neglected," Tooth says.

That 2% Tooth says are the people who need the most care and support from our community." The Commonwealth government will not accommodate them and as far as I am aware neither political party in Tasmania has any plan for their management.,' Tooth argues.

According to Tooth; "It is important that we now start planning for the accommodation of people with dementia who have difficult behaviour."  He is working on a new ADARDS on land at St Johns Park in Hobart.  This accommodation will house around 40 older Australians for whom Dementia has meant an undignified slide into problematic behaviour.

Tooth's new facility - essential health infrastructure-will cost about 20 million to build. Whichever party wins government on March 15 will have to face to rising cost of dementia care.  John Tooth's ADARDS reborn would be a wise investment and a good place to start.

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