Dementia is a growing health concern that impacts those diagnosed and the family and friends providing the necessary support and care. There were 750,000 Canadians living with dementia in 2011 and millions of caregivers, family members and friends who were directly affected. In fewer than 20 years, the number of people diagnosed with dementia is expected to double to 1.4 million. CARP members understand the huge impact dementia will have on our society. But they don’t feel that our health system is prepared for the onslaught, as that they were not confident that there is enough progress nationally in treatments and care options to provide the necessary support for dementia sufferers, their families and caregivers.
CARP actively supports the research seeking better methods of identifying the warning signs, risk factors, symptoms and behaviors associated with dementia, but there is still no cure and only a few treatment options. Continued research to find a cure and more effective treatment is important, but people living with dementia and their caregivers need help to deal with their current struggles.
CARP is calling for a comprehensive dementia strategy that includes research but also seeks to help dementia suffers and their families better cope and live with the daily reality of the disease, including more support for caregivers, more and better medical professionals and practices, and person-focused home and long term care.
In recent days, the conversations surrounding dementia care and experiences of caregivers have been resonating in the media. Many local initiatives have been taking place, discussing the issues and the solutions that can be used to improve the everyday experiences of people living with and caring for someone with dementia.
A weekend long hackathon at Ryerson Digital Media Zone brought people together who have an interest in developing technologies to make the lives of those living with dementia and caregivers easier. The competition winner, CareUmbrella is a web- application that uses a cell phone device to enable people with dementia to call upon specific information by tapping on NFC enabled stickers around their homes. Near Field Communication (NFC) stickers is a form of contactless communication between devices, allowing users to wave a device over a sticker to send or receive information without directly touching the device to set up connection. Tapping the NFC sticker would prompt a video or a voice recording that would play on the mobile device, instructing the person on how to use a microwave amongst other tasks.
Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) is a national initiative aimed at tackling the growing onset of dementia and related diseases, improving lives of Canadians with these illnesses and providing support for their families and caregivers. Research is focused on improving the quality of life of those already living with Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia, by investigating how physical exercise, cognitive training and vitamin D interact to slow the onset of dementia.
The sixth annual report titled Alzheimers Disease International reveals persuasive evidence for dementia risk reduction and practices that showed significant benefits. The report suggests that the benefits of exercise, a healthy diet and not smoking are shared across vital organs and help to prevent the onset of dementia, heart disease and other chronic diseases.
This article profiles an internationally renowned sculptor who forgets her abilities to take on the day-to-day tasks due to progressing dementia, yet maintains the ability to draw spontaneously from her memory. The important message to keep in mind is that although dementia is certainly an illness that robs people of their personality, mental capacities and independence, not all essential traits of personality and experience are lost in the course of developing dementia.
Author and a CARP member, Bill Winfield crafts a caregiver manual that offers his personal insight and experiences on taking care of a loved one living with Alzheimers. The book seeks to establish a better understanding of the disease and its impact on the patient, the families, caregivers, and the healthcare workers. The book is published by Alzheimers Society and is available for a minimum $10 donation to the Alzheimer Society of Peel.
CARP is calling on governments and healthcare systems to step in the world of those living with dementia and shift how we care for those with dementia and their families. Canadians need a comprehensive approach to dementia care so that people with dementia can live high quality lives for as long as possible.