January is Alzheimer Awareness Month

January is Alzheimer Awareness Month.  It provides an opportunity to increase understanding about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Raising awareness also helps to reduce the stigma that prevents people from talking about their experiences with family, friends, colleagues and doctors.  Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is a progressive, degenerative and fatal brain disease, in which cell to cell connections in the brain are lost and brain cells eventually die 
(Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society). Early diagnosis helps people to get the right care and support at the right time.

Canada is facing a dementia epidemic. Approximately 500,000 Canadians have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia today. It is the most significant cause of disability among Canadians (65+) and it already costs Canadian society many billions of dollars each year.

For the past decade, dementia and its potential impacts on national economies have been the subject of growing interest around the globe. Forecasts show that within 20 years, worldwide prevalence will increase two-fold. There are more than 35 million people with dementia in the world at this time. It is estimated that by 2050, this number will increase to 115 million people! Canada, too, can expect a several-fold increase in dementia in the coming decades.

By 2038:

  • 1,125,200 will have Dementia in Canada – 2.8% of the Canadian population
  • The cumulative economic burden will be $872 billion
  • Demand for long-term care will increase 10-fold
Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society.

In Waterloo Wellington, today, more than 10,000 people over the age of 65 are living with dementia. By 2020, that number is expected to increase by 34% to more than 13,500 people. For more information, please read the Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society.

The integration of the Alzheimer’s Societies of Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, and Guelph Wellington created a new Alzheimer’s Society of Waterloo Wellington. This has improved coordination of programs and increased the number of residents the agency serves. That means residents living with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and their families/caregivers, are benefiting from the development of a single standard of care, increased services, and better care coordination. 

“More residents living with Alzheimer and other dementias in Waterloo Wellington are now able to access better coordinated care and services as a result of the three societies joining together. We applaud the commitment of these organizations to put the best interest of our residents first. Their voluntary integration is a shining example of how by working together we can achieve better health, better care and better value for our residents.”

Bruce Lauckner, CEO, Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network

What has happened a year after the Integration?

This year, the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network Board of Directors approved investments to support the expansion of the existing adult day programs serving individuals living with dementia. Currently, there are more than 1,550 older adults attending day programs in the Waterloo Wellington which offer their caregivers respite.

There are many other specialized services provided for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are supported across the system through home and community support service provision, long-term care and primary care.

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