With approximately 500,000 Canadians affected by Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, or one in every 11 over the age of 65, this is more than just an important health concern. This disease has the potential to overwhelm the health care system if changes are not made in research funding and care delivery.
Recognizing the need for change, the Alzheimer Society is advocating governments across the country to make dementia a national health priority through the development of a Canadian Dementia Management Strategy.
“Research remains the key to finding a cure, and a significant investment into science is essential if we are to eradicate dementia. There must also be better support, care and treatment for people living with Alzheimer’s or a related disease,” says Scott Dudgeon, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Canada.
Improving Care for Caregivers
With hundreds of thousands of Canadians caring for someone with dementia, one of the most critical parts of this strategy will be to design a framework and approach that can meet the needs of these people.
“We must put policies in place to provide support and training for caregivers in family situations and/or formal care facilities,” adds Dudgeon. “Ensuing best practices and equitable access across the country will benefit everyone, regardless of where they live in Canada.”
For example, of critical concern to family caregivers is the lack of financial support available to them when they interrupt their career in order to care for someone with dementia. We often hear of people who have to quit their jobs or take long unpaid leaves of absences in order to provide the support their loved ones need. A key part of a Canadian Dementia Management Strategy would be to address this issue.
The Alzheimer Society is also working to support partner organizations, such as the Canadian Caregiver Coalition and the Quality End of Life Care Coalition of Canada, to help leverage existing policy work through the collective voice of many like minded organizations.
Raise Your Voice!
You can help the Alzheimer Society, and the hundreds of thousand of people we represent, by raising your voice to government. This March, the Alzheimer Society is urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government to recognize the urgent need of caregivers now, through the development of a national strategy on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Other countries, including France, Australia and the United Kingdom are well ahead of Canada in this regard.
A comprehensive strategy would encompass aspects that have a direct impact on the lives of those touched by dementia, including care (both for the person with the disease and the caregiver), research, diagnosis and treatment.
People interested in joining our postcard campaign should visit www.alzheimer.ca and use our on-line tool to send an e-card. A copy of each postcard will be copied to that person’s MP as well as the Hon. Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health.
About the Alzheimer Society
The Alzheimer Society is the leading, nationwide health organization for people affected by dementia in Canada. The Society is a principal funder of Alzheimer research and training, provides enhanced care and support to people with the disease, their families and their caregivers, and is a prominent voice within all levels of government. Active in more than 140 communities across Canada, the Society is also a key player in Alzheimer’s Disease International, an organization at the forefront of world wide efforts to fight dementia.