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There were almost 95,000 hospitalisations of people with dementia and $20 million spent on anti-dementia medications in 2016-17, two new reports from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have revealed.


Dementia, a major cause of ill health and death in Australia that covers a group of conditions typified by the gradual impairment of brain function, affected up to 436,000 Australians in 2018 and caused more than 13,700 deaths in 2017.

The first report, Hospital care for people with dementia 2016-17, uncovered 94,800 submissions to hospital of people with at least one diagnosis of dementia.

Nine out of 10 hospitalisations involved at least one overnight stay, with the average length of stay 13 days.

Dementia was recorded as the principal diagnosis in about one in five hospitalisations, while in the remaining 78% 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%) and type 2 diabetes (24%).

Where dementia was an additional diagnosis, the most common principal diagnosis was related to injury (21%) and leg fractures (36%).

Almost half the hospitalisations ended with the patient going home, with about a third of patients continuing their care in hospital and one in five hospitalisations ending in a new admission to a residential aged care facility.

The AIHW also recently released its Dispensing patterns for anti-dementia medications 2016-17, which examined 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 spokesperson Richard Jukes said.

“Donepezil accounted for 65% of all anti-dementia medications dispensed, followed by Galantamine (15%), Rivastigmine (12%) and Memantine (8%).

“About 80% of anti-dementia medications were prescribed be general practitioners and 42% by other medical specialists because people could be prescribed by more than one prescriber.”