Like the rest of Australia, dementia and Alzeimer’s disease have grown to collectively become the second biggest killer in Wagga.
But one resident has shared a message of hope amid a troubling increase of diagnoses forecast as the population ages.
It comes after the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare took on the grim task of counting 765,911 fatalities across five years.
According to data released this month, close to 40 per cent of the city’s former residents had died from either heart attacks, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, lung cancer, respiratory diseases or diabetes, between 2012 and 2016.
Without a medical breakthrough, the Bureau of Statistics predicted the number of people with dementia could increase to 536,164 by 2025.
But long-time Wagga resident Graham Russell said dementia did not mean the end of the world.
“It’s not,” Mr Russell said.
“It’s not easy, but I’ve only got good things to say.
“Over the course of life we’ve had hard times and we’ve always got through it together.”
Lyn Russell was diagnosed with a form of dementia in 2014. Across the four years, Mr Russell has cared for his “beautiful, intelligent and wonderful” wife, he said the community’s awareness and understanding had blown him away.
Mr Russell said he wanted other residents, going through similar challenges, to know there was help and support available.
He said they were not alone.
“I wish we didn’t have to go through this,” he said. “But it is important to recognise the need for assistance, in time to get it.”
Mr Russell couldn’t speak more highly of Right At Home, the company that came to his family’s aid when he needed it.
With so many businesses now catering to a rising demand for at-home-care, Mr Russell warned residents to double-check the fine print for some companies’ hidden fees and charges.
“One wanted to charge me for the minutes we spent on the phone,” he said. “But the service I chose had our interests and Lynn’s care at the centre of it all.”
Mr Russell said life could be frustrating at times and it took a lot of understanding, but he said the love he and his wife shared made it worthwhile.