A Wimmera health leader believes the region must prepare to care for an increasing number of dementia sufferers.
New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that in 2009, 110,000 Australians were identified with dementia or Alzheimer's disease and the number is increasing because of the ageing population.
Wimmera Health Care Group sub-acute services manager Anne Richards said the region was likely to see an increase in the number of people living with dementia as the population aged.
"It is now a national health priority because there are concerns for the increasing number of people with dementia and the ageing population," she said.
"There will be a real national cost and burden to the community.
"Dementia is not specifically related to age but there are higher incidences as we get older and as we are living longer."
Mrs Richards said while increased government funding would assist, early intervention and awareness was the key to supporting sufferers.
"We haven't got an open bucket of money so I don't think I can say where it should be spent, but awareness might help," she said.
"It is about working towards early diagnosis, early intervention and planning so people are aware of what will happen as they lose their memory.
"I have seen great improvements for people with early intervention because we can put the services in place so it doesn't reach a crisis point.
"Research also shows that having a healthier lifestyle helps, because there are many reasons why people have memory loss, including vascular reasons and strokes."
The statistics also show that the number of Australians living at home with dementia increased by more than 10 per cent in six years.
While 26 per cent of people with dementia lived at home in 2003, the number jumped to 38 per cent in 2009.
Mrs Richards said health organisations were focused on keeping people independent with the help of home services.
She said Wimmera residents had fewer health service options than their city counterparts.
"I think our whole philosophy is to care for people in their own home," she said.
"All community services are working towards keeping people in the home for a better quality of life.
"Rural isolation does cause some problems for people out on farms who can't get services as readily as in the town but it is just about managing those systems with more flexibility."