“Like many Canadians, dementia is personal for me”, shared Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor in her recent tweet. Based upon the experiences of our clients, we can attest that this is a statement echoed by many, many Canadians. A few days later, on June 17, 2019, the Federal Government, through its Public Health Agency of Canada, released its first national dementia strategy entitled “A Dementia Strategy for Canada: Together We Aspire” (the ‘Strategy’). The Strategy is a comprehensive 100-page document detailing our country’s national objectives when it comes to dementia, the principles behind those objectives, and the underlying pillars essential to implementing the national objectives.
What Is Dementia?
According to the Strategy, approximately 9 seniors are diagnosed with dementia every hour in Canada! More than 419,000 Canadians aged 65 and older are living with diagnosed dementia. That number is expected to continue to rise even more – to a staggering 937,000 by 2031.
Dementia may be comprised of a set of symptoms affecting brain function that is characterized by a decline in cognitive abilities. This often results in effects to memory; awareness of person, place, and time; language, basic math skills; judgement; and, planning. If you or a loved one is suffering from any of the above, you may be well aware of the significant impact it has on those aspect of daily living, such as eating, bathing, toileting, and dressing, which most of us take for granted.
The Strategy also outlines Alzheimer’s disease, vascular disease and other types of disease which can contribute to dementia. Other common types of dementia include Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia and mixed dementias. In rare instances, dementia may be linked to infectious diseases, including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Impact of the Strategy
The adoption of the Strategy is a remarkable event for all Canadians, especially those living with dementia and their caregivers. It is intended to be an important tool addressing the hardships of the individuals affected as well as their families and caregivers who support them. The Strategy sets out three national objectives: preventing dementia; advancing therapies and finding a cure; and improving the quality of life of people living with dementia and caregivers. The Appendices to the Strategy contain a description of a vast network of initiatives implementing these objectives, including federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, as well as non-government, not-for-profit and international organizations.
Click here for the full version of the Strategy.