There are many issues affecting Canadians today. Is dementia really something that we need to be focusing on right now?
Dementia is one of the biggest health issues in Canada today. The statistics are shocking: an estimated 564,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Age remains the biggest risk factor. As baby-boomers across the country continue to age, the number of Canadians with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will increase to 937,000 by 2031, an increase of 66 per cent. The combined health-care system and out-of-pocket cost of dementia are estimated at $10.4 billion. By 2031, this figure is expected to increase by 60 per cent, to $16.6 billion.
What can we do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias?
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and its causes are unknown. At the present time, medications can help manage the symptoms but none can stop, slow or reverse the progression of this debilitating and ultimately, fatal disease. By encouraging and coordinating dementia research across the country, the Canadian Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Partnership (CADDP) would accelerate the search for a cure.
Why should the federal government be involved in a dementia strategy – isn’t health care a provincial responsibility?
The scale, impact and cost of dementia mean that no single province or organization can tackle this major health-care problem on their own. It warrants a coordinated, national approach and can make a real difference by pooling research, knowledge and resources across the country.
How would a national dementia strategy benefit Canadians living with dementia and their caregivers?
A national dementia strategy will benefit Canadians and caregivers in many ways:
- Additional research would help find a cure, improve the quality of life and ensure that all Canadians have access to the same standard of care, regardless of where they live in the country
- Health-care professionals would have an improved understanding of the disease, be able to detect symptoms at an early stage and make an early diagnosis
- Persons with dementia would have better access to care, evidence-based information, tools, resources and support programs such as First Link®
- More effort can be made to de-stigmatize dementia
- Canadians would be better informed on what they can do to support someone in their family, community or workplace that has dementia
- Family caregivers who must leave paid employment or reduce self-employed work in order to provide care can access job protection provisions and income support
How quickly will we see any effects from the strategy?
The Alzheimer Society has proposed the creation of a Canadian Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Partnership (CADDP). The Partnership would bring together dementia experts, governments, researchers, health-care providers, industry, consumer groups as well as people living with dementia and their families to lead, coordinate and facilitate the development and implementation of an integrated, comprehensive national dementia strategy in Canada.
The Canadian Medical Association has called for a national seniors’ strategy. How does this initiative impact the Canadian Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Partnership?
The Alzheimer Society and the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) are committed to supporting improved care for aging Canadians with chronic diseases. Both organizations stand behind each other’s proposals. The Alzheimer Society and CMA agree that a national dementia strategy would serve as a positive first step towards the creation of a national seniors’ strategy. While the Society’s proposal for a national dementia strategy and the CMA’s proposal for a national seniors’ strategy address some areas of common concern, they are independent of each other and neither proposal should be viewed as a replacement of the other, if implemented.
During its first five year mandate, the CADDP would focus on three key priorities — increasing Canadian dementia research capacity, improving quality of life for all Canadians living with dementia and increasing focus on prevention.