New research suggests there is a strong correlation between early childhood trauma, such as that experienced by the Stolen Generations, and dementia.
By
Jarni Bakkarly

Source:
NITV News
11 Sep 2017 - 4:53 PM  UPDATED 11 Sep 2017 - 4:53 PM

The rate of dementia for Indigenous Australians is around three times higher than the general population. Dr Kylie Radford from Neuroscience Research Australia says trauma may be the reason why.

"We've found that there is a strong correlation between a high exposure to early life stress and adversity, that includes people that were part of the Stolen Generations, and the likelihood of being diagnosed with dementia later in life, so once you get to 60 or over,” Dr Radford told NITV News.

The data was gathered through a series of surveys with over 330 older Indigenous Australians from across New South Wales.

Yuin man Maurice Stewart, who participated in the study, knows what it’s like to take care of someone with dementia.

“My mother had dementia before she passed away. It was quite traumatic. It was really hard to go in there and find out your own mother doesn't know who you are and doesn't remember who you are, where you are,” he told NITV News.

He says his experience in taking care of his mother could provide a lesson for others.

“If it's your own mob looking after you, if you've got your special places with dementia or sicknesses, it makes it a lot easier, because they actually look after you, understand you and they understand what you've gone through,” he said.

Dr Radford says the number of Indigenous Australians with dementia is going to continue rising steadily as a natural result of an aging population.

"People are living longer and the number of older Aboriginal people is increasing quite dramatically. With that comes this increase prevalence of dementia," she said.  

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