World Alzheimer’s Month, which was launched in 2012 is observed in September every year. This year it was yesterday, September 21, 2014. The Alzheimers Society shares that dementia is a general term that refers to a variety of brain disorders. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.
We still do not have a Canadian dementia strategy, however there are initiatives underway. The recommendations from the 2010 Rising Tide Paper included:
1) Increase the investment in dementia research
2) Provide support to family caregivers
3) Emphasize prevention and early intervention
4) Build an integrated system of care
5) Strengthen and supplement Canada’s dementia workforce.
The Executive Summary can be downloaded here.
Earlier this month, Health Minister Rona Ambrose announced funding for a national research initiative, the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, aimed at addressing the growing numbers of dementia sufferers. As well, funding for a new project , initially launched in Japan, called Dementia Friends will be introduced in 2015. The Alzheimer’s Society will train volunteers to help raise awareness and encourage these volunteers to interact with those with dementia ‘in a more meaningful way’.
We are starting to make some inroads. We still have a long way to go.
I wanted to share a model of care which was highlighted in the CRNCC Newsletter that puts into practice many of the ideas being discussed. The first is called ‘Apartments for Life’ which began in the 1990’s in Rotterdam. The concept of aging-in-place, independence and self- determination is practiced in 17 complexes that house several thousand older residents. There are specially designed units for those with dementia and each Apartment for Life complex has a ‘village square’ where services are coordinated and include personal care, nursing, social work services, GP and other health care services. The Humanitas approach requires that there is a mix of residents with different health status and socio-economic status.
Another Aging in Place model is “Dementia Village” (De Hogeweyk) which offers a village atmosphere. There are 23 homes in a self- enclosed village that has a supermarket, café, restaurant, theatre, parks and other outdoor and protected spaces. Health and housing services are provided on site in this gated community where residents are encouraged to wander freely within the village. Care staff are dressed in plainclothes and are available in public spaces.
1 in 10 Ontarians over 65 has dementia. I am glad we are talking about this very important issue and the societal changes that are ahead. For more information, please view Dementia by the Numbers, produced by the Alzheimers Society of Ontario.