Forgetting stuff happens all the time, but my auntie seems to be forgetting everything, and it's getting worse. I've heard about dementia, but who is at high risk of getting it and why?
Dr Mark Wenitong
Dementia is an age related condition, so as you get older you have a higher risk. And particularly people over 65 years of age. So most of the aboriginal people don't really reach 65 at the moment. But those that do are at risk.
As well was that, we have these risk factors. So they're the things that can help lead to dementia later in life, such as type two diabetes, which lots of our people have; high blood pressure, which lots of our people have; smoking, which we smoke at about two the rate of the rest of the population; a previous history of alcohol, high levels of alcohol; brain injuries; and a number of other things including not a lot of early education.
So all of those things, a lot of what we already have in our communities. So we've been finding that there is a bit more dementia in our communities than what we thought before. And it might be more prevalent than the rest of the communities.
I think the main thing, for anybody that you're worried about, is to get them checked out. And what the easiest way to go about that is to first go and see a GP. If you've got an aboriginal medical service close by, that's the best option for you usually. Because they can understand the cultural issues as well, and if there's language barriers, which is a big problem in the assessment, then they can be assessed properly. And then you can have a aboriginal health worker, a liaison worker with you as well to help out with some of those questions.
So the best thing to do, is you get that initial screening done. Because we might not know what it is. It might be depression, it might be a stroke, it might be something else that's happening, that's causing your uncle, your grandad, whoever it is, to lose their memory a bit and to be a bit disoriented. So the important thing is to first find out when exactly is going on.
Last reviewed: January 2016