Tuesday 26 June 2018

Dementia Care in Canada - New News

A new report was released today about the state of dementia care in Canada. It's frightening.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) partnered with the Public Health Agency of Canada and they estimate that 402,000 seniors over 65 had dementia in Canada between 2013 and 2014. That's 7.1% of all seniors and two thirds of those were women.

Perhaps the most startling statistic is that 76,000 new cases of dementia are being diagnosed every year now and that represents 14.3 new cases per every thousand Canadians aged 65 or older.

It is clear that the burden of care falls to families. And this report tells us what we already know: dementia costs caregiving families in increased hours of unpaid work (26 hours per week of care for dementia patients compared to 17 for healthy seniors) , heightened distress and increased out-of-pocket costs. Canadian caregivers paid a whopping $1.4 billion dollars for their loved ones with dementia in 2016.

So what does the report recommend governments and communities do to support caregivers?
"Providing effective support to those living with dementia in the community and to their families is an important component of dementia strategies. If caregivers receive help to better manage the complex needs of the people they care for, hospital visits or transitions to higher levels of care may be improved. In addition, caregivers would be enabled to maintain their caregiving activities and have a personally rewarding experience."
We need support now, but so do family doctors. The front line of dementia care is in neighbourhoods, in family homes. And we need options for supported living once our relative's needs exceed what we can provide at home. Health care settings must be monitored to decrease the current institutional dependency on anti-psychotic medications (in the absence of psychosis) and restraints. 
People with dementia cannot look after themselves. I am 63 this year - will I be one of these statistics? Will you? We need a strategy to address dementia care in Canada now and that strategy has to be robust enough to support caring families in huge numbers down the road. We have statistics and we have projections. So, let's act. 

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