An estimated 6.3 million Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with dementia in the next 30 years – unless things are done now to change that, the nation’s Alzheimer’s society says.
A landmark study released by the Alzheimer Society of Canada on Tuesday (Sept. 6) says that researchers expect that by 2050, more than 1.7 million Canadians will be living with dementia. That’s an average of 685 people being diagnosed each day and is triple the number of people living with dementia in 2020, or roughly 597,000.
The potential impact this could have on the health care system is astronomical, the society said, because dementia patients often require a higher level of care. They are often diagnosed by their family doctor or nurse practitioner. In terms of hours, by 2050 if the number of diagnoses do surpass one million cases, that’s equivalent to more than 1.4 billion hours of care per year or 690,000 full-time jobs.
Dr. Brian Goldman, a Toronto-based physician, noted in the study that action is imperative to delay the onset of dementia or prevent it entirely.
“I know this personally because I helped care for my mother when she had dementia. Now, just eight years following her death, I have once again found myself providing essential care for a close family member,” he wrote. “In the years ahead, I will not be exceptional.”
The study, which is intended to serve as a road map to make change over the next 30 years, lays out what can be done to help reduce the impact of dementia. This includes being physically and socially active, maintaining a healthy diet, and having a range of hobbies.
The study outlines how vital these things can be when combined together.
“Delaying the onset of dementia by 1 year would avoid nearly 500,000 cases of dementia over the next 30 years in Canada. Delaying the onset by 10 years would effectively avoid more than 4 million cases.”
The study explores how caregivers need to be taken care of, as well, specifically “to enable them to carry out the tasks expected of them, we need to support them financially and emotionally, and give them the training they need to do the work properly.”
To read the full report, visit alzheimer.ca.