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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin

Survey shows Indigenous people in remote WA communities ageing at quicker rate than others

Date posted: 4 October 2013

A survey has shown that Indigenous people living in Western Australia's Kimberley region are ageing at a much quicker rate than other Australians.

Researchers conducted surveys in a number of remote communities, visiting Ardyaloon, Looma, Wiramanu, Warmun, Janjuwa and Mowanjum. The team was led by geriatricians from the University of Western Australia's (UWA) Centre for Health and Ageing.  The survey found higher incidences of dementia, depression, obesity, diabetes and other health problems in these communities than in non-Indigenous communities.

UWA's Winthrop Professor Leon Flicker says the results were concerning because it is happening at an earlier age and is very common in the Kimberley. He said a solution needed to be found, as prevention and correct treatment is the key. He and the team have begun developing a booklet targeting these areas and that will hopefully bridge the cultural gap and language barrier to improve the health of people in remote communities.

Ruth Crawford, who manages the Kimberley Aged and Community Service, is not surprised by the results of the survey. She says the agency has 60 clients in remote Aboriginal communities from Bidyadanga to Kalumburu, who need a high level of care starting at an early age. The care includes help with feeding, washing and doing the shopping.

However, there were also some inspirational exceptions found in the survey. Melbourne Health's Associate Professor Dr LoGuidice stated 'In our travels, we've seen some really great role models within the communities. There are people who are living into their 80s and 90s and do show that they are ageing well and many people are still very fit and active, so it's not all on the negative side.'

Source: ABC News


Last updated: 4 October 2013
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