SYDNEY, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Research has found one in four elderly women have dementia, the University of Queensland School of Public Health has revealed Friday.
A study spanning over 20 years, examined the lifestyle, activities, physical and mental health of 12,000 Australian women born between 1921 to 1926.
"First we surveyed a large group of Australian women aged 70-74, then used linked data to find out whether a participant had a record of dementia," researcher Dr Michael Waller told Xinhua.
"Then we used a technique called 'capture-recapture' which looked at the overlap between the linked data-sources and estimated how many dementia cases we might have missed."
The findings relay a growing concern within the healthcare community, regarding Australia's aging population.
The number of people over 65 is currently around 3.3 million but that figure is expected to reach 6.2 million by 2042.
"On one hand we expect the number of women living with dementia to increase, but on the other hand there is international research suggesting rates might be decreasing," Dr Waller said.
"Having an up-to-date, local estimate of dementia rates is important so that policy makers and the health care and aged care industries can meet the needs of older Australians."
"There's no national registry for dementia, so Australian policy makers have had to rely on dementia rates from international studies, or extrapolated from clinical assessments made on small groups of people."
Dr Waller believes this kind of research may be crucial, as the federal government will soon need to develop better planning for the future, so the health care system can cope with the issues facing Australia's aging population.
"The women in the study have been very loyal over the years and I think that they, and their families, would appreciate that their contribution to women's health research will continue despite their diagnosis," he said.