Guest blogger: Sasha Adler MSW, RSW (clinical manager with Elder Caring Inc.)
CanAge, just released a startling report that assesses Canada’s level of preparedness for the “massive influx of dementia patients that experts warn is set to overwhelm our health care system in the coming years”.
To help visualize this “massive influx”, our “lack of preparedness” and our lack of prioritizing the issue, the report shares:
- “If the true number of people impacted with Dementia was represented as a country, including those misdiagnosed or currently undiagnosed, that country would be roughly twice the size of Canada’s population”
- In 2020, in Canada there were: 6,491,030 children 17 or younger and there were 2,300 paediatricians = 1 paediatrician for every 2,822 children. In 2020, in Canada there were: 6,835,866 seniors 65+ and only 327 geriatricians = 1 geriatrician for every 20,905 seniors An almost 10-fold difference.
The report assesses how Canada has been implementing the National Dementia Strategy and whether Canada is “dementia inclusive” and ready for what is to come. To do this, CanAge looked for independent, non-governmental reports which measured the impact and progress of a government dementia strategy and found none.
It therefore conducted research looking at how each province has developed support for patients, support for caregivers, support for healthcare providers and supportive policies.
In the end, all were found to be overall not dementia inclusive or ready. Findings were that “resources dedicated to dementia are decidedly not keeping up and in fact in some cases dementia resources are shrinking, or even worse, falling off the governmental agenda completely”.
Further, the report was clear that while having a National Dementia Strategy is a good start, it is not enough and that further steps need to be taken including:
- An implementation plan with clear measures to ensure success
- A data-driven approach to dementia care and support – it’s unclear what data does exist, and where the gaps are currently to accurately define and assess the problem
- A detailed document that clearly identifies how the federal government will work together with provinces and territories to carry out their plans
- A quick and efficient vehicle for transfer of dollars for care for those living with dementia
We are all saturated with so much information about the many things that we need to fearful of and that we are not prepared for and Dementia is one of many. It is easy to become desensitized or to feel overwhelmed. That said, these challenges can also be seen as great opportunities.
This report from CanAge and other organizations are helping to hold those on “macro” levels of decision making accountable. We also need to hold ourselves accountable on a micro level. This can mean supporting organizations like CanAge or calling your local MPP. However, on a very basic individual level, we can also make some changes. We need to really engage with how we see aging, illness, disability and dying.
We need to cultivate a culture that is not scared and does not hide away from these states of being and actually celebrates, incorporates and respects them.
As Rosalyn Carter states, “there are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”
Thank you CanAge…….