Dementia Care Site Map
Dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities



The full extent of dementia among Indigenous people is not known however data sourced from the Kimberley region of Western Australia suggest that around one-in-eight (12.4%) Indigenous people aged 45 years or older are affected.


This means that dementia is almost five times more common among this Indigenous population than among the total Australian population, for which around one-in-forty (2.6%) are affected.


The risk factors identified in the Kimberley study were, age, male gender, previous stroke, head injury and low education.


According to the Department of Health and Ageing diabetes, cardio-vascular disease and alcohol-related issues are some of the causes of dementia among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


As dementia can sometimes be difficult to assess in different cultures, the doctor may need help to translate instructions to people with dementia so they understand what they are asking. The Kimberly Indigenous Cognitive Assessment (KICA) is the only assessment tool that has been tested and it is considered suitable for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in rural and remote areas, and can help the doctor diagnose whether a person has dementia.


Life out of Balance

There is a strong Aboriginal belief that a life 'out of balance', having lost the connection to the land and to traditional relationships causes sickness; some have described dementia as a 'sick spirit'. Our solutions to the problem of dementia need to take account of cultural perspectives and approaches to wellness.



Help sheets, videos, website links and newsletters with information on various topics on dementia are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at our Resources page. Click here to access the information.