Carers play an important role in providing care for family members and friends with illnesses or disabilities and are pivotal in Australia's aged care, health-care, disability and social systems. Carers assist and support with a range of daily activities such as self-care, transport, meal preparation and household chores, as well as provide overall supervision and manage behavioural or medical problems. For carers of people with dementia, the type of support and assistance needed will vary depending on individual circumstances but the level of care required will increase as the dementia progresses.
This page provides information on the number of carers of people with dementia in Australia as estimated by the AIHW, and information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) 2018 on:
See Box 6.1 for key carer definitions used in this report.
See Dementia among people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds for information on how carer characteristics differ in people from non-English speaking countries, and Indigenous-specific health and aged care programs and caring roles among Indigenous Australians for information on carers among Indigenous Australians.
Box 6.1: Key definitions used in this report
This report relies on a number of definitions from the ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) 2018. The definition of a ‘carer’ in the SDAC varies depending on the level of care provided:
- Carer refers to people who provide any informal assistance (help or supervision) to people with disability or older people (aged 65 and over). The assistance must be ongoing, or likely to be ongoing, for at least 6 months. It excludes people who provide formal assistance (on a regular paid basis, usually associated with an organisation). A carer is either a primary carer or other carer.
- Primary carer refers to carers aged 15 or over who provided the most informal, ongoing assistance with 1 or more core activity tasks (mobility, self-care or communication) for a person with disability. The assistance must be ongoing, or likely to be ongoing, for at least 6 months. For this report, all primary carers lived in the same household as their care recipient.
- Other carer refers to carers who: are aged under 15; provide informal assistance with 1 or more core activity tasks but do not provide the most assistance or provide assistance with non-core activities only.
While information on carers in this report refers to people who provide assistance to those living in the community, it is important to note that there are people who provide significant care to family and friends with dementia living in residential aged care facilities.
The number of carers of people with dementia in Australia is unclear. Based on the available data, the AIHW estimates that in 2022, there were between 137,600 and 354,200 informal carers of people with dementia who live in the community. However, this is likely an underestimate of the true number of carers of people with dementia in Australia. Expand the Knowledge gaps on carers of people with dementia in Australia section for details on data gaps for carers of people with dementia in Australia and how the total number of carers in Australia was estimated for this report.