Multicultural Australians may be given 'inequitable dementia care' due to language issues

One in three older people in Australia are from a CALD background. Source: Getty

Experts want multicultural Australians to be better included in dementia research and care.

Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds may be receiving "inequitable dementia care", according to experts.

An article published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday found multicultural Australians are not being properly included in dementia research, which could have troubling real-world impacts.

Dementia is estimated to cost Australia more than $15 billion.
Dementia is estimated to cost Australia more than $15 billion.

The authors, led by the University of Sydney's Associate Professor Lee-Fay Low, said 42 of the 94 registered active dementia clinical trials in Australia (or 45 per cent) "excluded patients not fluent in English".

As a result, people from CALD backgrounds "may receive inequitable dementia care as there is less evidence to help optimise clinical and service decisions".

The total CALD population in Australia of people aged 65 years and over is around 30 per cent.

"Given that one in three older people in this country are from a CALD background, it is important that [Australian] initiatives focus on achieving ethnic or cultural diversities in their samples, and support the participation of people with low English proficiency," the authors said.

"At the very least, data collected on CALD variables, such as country of birth, years lived in Australia, proficiency in English and language spoken at home, must be considered in the analyses and subsequent publications."

Researchers made a number of recommendations including grant funders recognising diversity as a priority and more money for translation or interpreters.

There are 447,115 Australians living with dementia.
There are 447,115 Australians living with dementia.

According to Dementia Australia, there are 447,115 Australians living with dementia and almost 1.5 million Australians involved in their care.

One in 13 of those with dementia are aged in their 30s-50s.

"[And] without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to increase to 589,807 by 2028 and 1,076,129 by 2058," material from Dementia Australia says.

The organisation also claims that dementia is estimated to cost Australia more than $15 billion.

Last month, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said, "dementia is increasingly prevalent in Australia, and in the coming years most of us will be touched by this condition in some way".

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