Canada isn’t ready to deal with rising rates of dementia as its population ages, according to a new study by the national aging advocacy organization CanAge.
In its report on Dementia in Canada, published October 18, CanAge warns Canada will face a wave of dementia patients large enough to overwhelm its healthcare system. them between now and 2050.
Meanwhile, Canada finds Canada lagging behind in the global race to address the complex needs of a rapidly aging population. According to 2021 census data, people 85 years of age and older are now one of the fastest growing demographic groups in the country.
More than seven million Canadians are now over the age of 65. In most provinces, this number is one in six people. So while 1/6 of the global population is expected to be over 65 by 2050, Canada has already hit that milestone. In some provinces, the figure is close to a quarter.
“As the risk of dementia doubles between the ages of 85 and 25%, the chances of overcoming an inevitable health care crisis are increasing alarmingly,” the report reads.
The report follows the release of the World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan on dementia in 2017, which promotes a coordinated worldwide approach to address projected growth in people with cognitive impairment.
As explained by CanAge CEO Laura Tamblyn Watts, part of Canada’s problem is that the country lacks geriatric-trained healthcare providers who can diagnose dementia early. . In 2016, only two out of five Canadian doctors felt well prepared to manage dementia care in the community. And while there will be one pediatrician for every 2,822 children in 2020, that same year, there will be one in 20,905 older adults, or a total of 327 pediatricians.
Tamblyn Watts told CTV’s News Channel on Wednesday: “We know that, as far as treatments are available, they have to come out soon, and that (because of) some of the drugs we only have. effective at the beginning of the diagnostic process.”
She says other interventions, including social support, also work best when used in the early stages of dementia. However, because there are so few health care providers specializing in gerontology and cognitive impairment in Canada relative to the number of older adults, getting an early diagnosis of dementia is challenging. awake.
“In cases where we cannot diagnose, the challenges are even greater,” says Tamblyn Watts.
The CanAge report found that dementia professionals tend to focus on key urban centres, causing aging populations in remote and rural communities, as well as those in rural areas. Other disadvantaged communities are at higher risk.
“Many people worry about being officially diagnosed because many people… feel they are being actively discriminated against. Those feelings are real and evidence-based,” says Tamblyn Watts.
ONE WAY Ahead
For Canada’s health care system to manage the inevitable rise in dementia rates, the report calls for prompt access to diagnosis, dementia-trained doctors and innovative treatments and technologies for patients; better support for carers; and better support, training and access to guidance for healthcare workers.
Canada released a national strategy on dementia in 2019, making it one of 39 UN member states to do so. However, the CanAge report says there are no clear guidelines on how provinces and territories can implement the strategy and measure its success, and that many provinces and territories lack strategies. apparent dementia of its own.
CanAge recommends that the federal government collect better data on the prevalence, risk factors and effects of dementia in Canada to better support its strategy. It also suggests that the strategy should be updated to include an implementation plan with clear success criteria and a clear plan for working with provinces and territories to implement the strategy locally. direction. It also states the federal government should work to channel funds more efficiently to the provinces to manage health care system capacity, labor shortages and dementia support.
“We need to make sure we are giving support specifically to healthcare providers so they can have ongoing training to support an aging customer base,” said Tamblyn Watts. their go,” Tamblyn Watts said.