• The dementia research studies aim to develop effective prevention strategies. (AAP)Source: AAP
University research projects have been awarded $14 million in federal funding to understand and help improve the higher dementia rates among Indigenous Australians.
NITV Staff Writer

24 Apr 2018 - 11:25 AM  UPDATED 24 Apr 2018 - 11:36 AM

Studies have shown Indigenous Australians are three to five times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to develop dementia – in remote, regional and urban centres. 

Two of the research projects, at the University of Newcastle and the University of NSW will examine risk factors, prevention and management of the condition.

“Our project will focus primarily on understanding the major causes and risk factors contributing to these higher rates of dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander peoples, in order to develop effective prevention strategies across the life course,”  UNSW project lead Kylie Radford said in a statement.

"This project will provide fresh insight into a range of social and biomedical factors that could impact lifelong brain health and dementia onset, as well as ways to reduce the burden of cognitive decline."

Aged care and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said the federal government had made dementia funding a priority, through the Boosting Dementia Research Initiative.

"This work is crucial because our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders are our living libraries and losing each individual means a precious book of knowledge is lost forever," he said in a statement.

Indigenous dementia rates linked to childhood trauma
New research suggests there is a strong correlation between early childhood trauma, such as that experienced by the Stolen Generations, and dementia.

Alzheimer's Australia, in a report released in 2014, noted dementia intervention runs into numerous barriers within Indigenous communities.

"Geographical constraints in the provision of services, a lack of education and awareness in communities and by health workers and the prevalence of other chronic diseases have all posed considerable barriers to the recognition of dementia as an emerging health issue," the report said.

A research study last year found a strong correlation between trauma – and specifically looked at the experiences of the Stolen Generations  – and developing dementia later in life. 

More than 400,000 Australians currently experience dementia and that number is expected to pass one million in 2050 as the population ages.

With AAP