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Journal Article

Dementia Policy in Australia and the ‘Social Construction’ of Infirm Old Age

Cecily Hunter and Colleen Doyle
Health and History
Vol. 16, No. 2 (2014), pp. 44-62
DOI: 10.5401/healthhist.16.2.0044
Stable URL:
Page Count: 19
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Dementia Policy in Australia and the ‘Social Construction’ of Infirm Old Age
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Twenty years of Australian dementia policy brought a previously marginalised group of infirm old people into mainstream aged care. This happened in the context of the interpretation of dementia as a disease process. Dementia advocacy has grown, and perceived problems around state versus federal responsibility in the matter of dementia care, and the integration of health and welfare responses to illness, have been addressed. Advocacy movements have kept dementia in the minds of those in control of the political agenda, and advocates have presented dementia care as a problem of population health rather than aged care. However, the emphasis on dementia as disease tends to categorise those people with the condition as a residual group in terms of health policy. It undermines the possibilities dementia policy has created for fostering a new public understanding of life in infirm old age. For societies dominated by a view of old age as an active period of life such understanding is crucial.

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