Friday, 30 June 2017

National Dementia Strategy

Last week Canada passed "Bill C-233, An Act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias" (Alzheimer Society of Canada Press Release http://alz.to/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Bill_C233_PR_EN.pdf). It is projected that by the year 2031, 1.4 million people will be effected by dementia which will translate into tremendous family stress, emotional drain, lost wages, financial burden and health care spending (http://www.alzheimer.ca/~/media/Files/national/Advocacy/SOCI_6thReport_DementiaInCanada-WEB_e.pdf).

Having personally witnessed the loss of a loved one to dementia, I can attest to the impact this disease has on families, support systems and the health care system. It is unimaginable to think that in just over a dozen years, 1.4 billion people will impacted by this horrible disease that robs the essence of a person from the body we associate with them.

Canada is the 30th country to adopt a national strategy of this sort. One would hope that the strategy will be all encompassing including, funding for research to delay, treat and one day prevent the disease, increase training and people who can provide care, support for family and unpaid caregivers, improved health care and social supports, and housing options catering to the needs of the population.

It seems that it would be both cost effective and prudent as with other aspects of senior care, that we look at what others are doing around the world. Since 29 countries have gone before us, it is not a new concept at all, and I venture to guess that we can learn a lot from the mistakes and triumphs of the other 29. There are countries with care and housing models that are innovative and work very well. There are model communities for those with dementia, caregiving communities, innovative technologies... the list goes on.

We have started the process by committing to creating a strategy; I look forward to seeing what we do with it and how Canada will build on the successes of those that have gone before us.

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