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Right now, over 500,000 Canadians have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. That number is expected to double by 2038.
Dementia has an overwhelming impact on the people with the disease and the families who care for them.
We are asking the Canadian government to create a national response to the dementia crisis. Because Alzheimer’s disease is everybody’s business.
In 2010 the Alzheimer Society released Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society. The study alerted the Canadian public and federal, provincial and territorial politicians of the need for policies and approaches to address the looming dementia crisis.
The report concluded with five recommendations to government, developed through comprehensive consultations with subject experts and stakeholders. The underlying message is that we must act now and that change is possible.
The five recommendations are:
- Increase the investment in dementia research
A national dementia strategy must include increased investment in all areas of dementia research. Most of our knowledge about dementia care and treatment has resulted from recent research. We can maintain Canada’s leadership role in dementia research by:
- Leveraging Canadian expertise
- Encouraging and supporting international partnerships
- Continuing preventative research so that we can identify individuals at risk and take preventative steps
- Continuing research to improve quality of life for a person with dementia and his family caregivers at all stages of the disease and at all care levels.
In response to the impending dementia epidemic we must, as a minimum, triple dementia research spending.
- Provide support for family caregivers
We must clearly recognize the important role played by informal caregivers. Our governments must demonstrate that we value the work of caregivers by making it easier to continue to provide care. We can do this through:
- Caregiver information and training
- Meaningful respite care
- Other programs that can support caregivers, including financial support.
We must provide meaningful support to caregivers.
- Emphasize prevention and early intervention
A national dementia strategy must also focus on:
- Maintenance of brain health
- Prevention of dementia
- Delay of onset
- Early intervention
We must recognize the importance of prevention and early intervention.
- Build an integrated system of care
As a leading health policy concept specifically suited to the impending dementia epidemic, Canada's national dementia strategy must establish integrated models of care as a priority across all jurisdictions. Only then will there be real improvement in care for Canadians who need complex arrays of specialized medical, community and social services, including people with dementia.
We must foster greater integration of care and increased use of “best practices” in chronic disease prevention and management, community support and community care coordination.
- Strengthen and supplement Canada's dementia workforce
We must strengthen Canada’s dementia workforce by:
- Increasing availability of geriatricians, neurologists, psychiatrists and advanced practice nurses with specialized knowledge of dementia
- Improving diagnostic and treatment capabilities of all frontline professionals
- Making best use of general and specialized resources through inter-professional collaboration
- Supporting patient self-management and caregiver participation in care coordination
- Leveraging the capabilities of the voluntary sector through investment and training
We must ensure that the escalating numbers of people with dementia are met with an appropriate supply of dementia specialists and well-trained generalists working collaboratively. These scarce resources must be supplemented by a well-resourced voluntary sector, with a nationally available support program as a priority.
Last Updated: 12/01/11