Diverse populations

In primary health care it is important to recognise the variety of stigma and perceptions related to behaviour change and memory loss and ageing by CALD communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities requiring a targeted response. [1]

Further information specific to Culturally Diverse and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is located below.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI)

As in the broader Australian population there are misconceptions and stigma surrounding dementia. Dementia is perceived and experienced in many different ways but is often not recognised as a medical condition. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, dementia is often described as a 'sick spirit'.

A diagnosis of dementia can be particularly distressing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people because of the role Elders in passing on cultural knowledge to younger generations orally, which requires a reliance on memory. As a result, it is not only individuals and families who are affected by dementia, but entire communities. Communities may also become distressed when a person with dementia breaks cultural taboos and norms.

The accurate assessment of dementia among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is essential so that appropriate services can be provided. [2]

ATSI Help sheet - Memory Changes PDF

ATSI Help sheet - Diagnosing dementia PDF

Aboriginal Health Services

Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative
5 Market Street, BALLARAT 3350
5331 5344

Budja Budja Aboriginal Cooperative
20-22 Grampians Road, HALLS GAP 3381
5356 4751

Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Cooperative
43 Hamilton Street, HORSHAM 3400
5381 6333

Cultural diversity

Perceptions, views and opinions about dementia vary across and within population groups. This greatly influences health seeking behaviour and disclosure about illness. A recent study highlights that people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds is the language barrier. Therefore a strong focus of any initiative aiming to ensure equal access to quality services for older people of non-English speaking backgrounds will be on language and linguistic considerations in all aspects and levels of assessment, treatment and service provision.

Ensure information that promotes awareness and recognition and understanding of the symptoms and behaviours associated with dementia and the merits of medical investigation which includes timely diagnosis, forward planning and access to information and support services is available in a range of languages. [3]

Perceptions of dementia in ethnic communities PDF

For interpreter services ring the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) Doctors Priority Line: 131 450

Available 24 hours a day

Be responsive to perceptions of greater stigma attached to dementia in small communities. A varied response may be required to support assessment and diagnosis and access to specialists and multidisciplinary memory clinics for lower density populations in rural regions.

Be responsive to perceptions of greater stigma attached to dementia in various communities.

KPMG Dementia services pathways - an essential guide to effective service planning 2011 pg. 14

Benevolent Society Research to Practice Briefing 8: Working with older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2013

Dementia Australia Background paper: Screening and Diagnostic Assessment of Non-English Speaking People With Dementia 2007