EDITORIAL: Addressing dementia at all levels

Dementia is one of the country’s most pressing health issues.

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, there are an estimated 564,000 Canadians living with dementia, and an additional 25,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

As of 2016, the combined health-care system and out-of-pocket caregiver costs are estimated at $10.4 billion per year.

Rarely talked about as recently as one generation ago, Alzheimer’s disease – the most prevalent disease associated with dementia – is now the seventh-leading cause of death in Canada.

Last year, the federal government launched a national dementia strategy with the passing of Bill C-233, An Act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, thereby acknowledging the urgency for action to address the condition.

A national dementia strategy ensures that all Canadians living with dementia – as well as those caring for them – have access to the same level and quality of care, regardless of where they live in this country.

The Comox Valley has among the highest average age in Canada, at 47.3 — 6.1 years higher than the national average age; five years higher than the average age in B.C. (2016 census)

While we are living longer because of active lives, modern medicine and education about healthy nutrition, our demographic dictates that we have a higher than average number of dementia cases.

January is National Alzheimer Awareness Month.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. offers a variety of assistance to area families and other caregivers, such as the First Link Dementia Helpline. It can be reached at 1-800-936-6033.

The regional Alzheimer Resource Centre can connect residents to support groups, including ones that can be accessed by telephone, educational seminars and workshops, and programs that help people live well with dementia.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. also provides useful resources for health care professionals.

For more information visit www.alzheimerbc.org

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