Open letter - Dementia: Taking Action to Counter the Crisis
Quebec is facing an imminent crisis when it comes to providing care for people living with dementia. The Federation of Quebec Alzheimer Societies is calling on our government institutions to take immediate action.
Quebec is facing an imminent crisis when it comes to providing care for people living with dementia. As our population ages, an estimated 360,000 Quebecers will be living with the disease by 2050, representing a 145% increase over 2020. Although the population ageing is inevitable, taking bold measures now will help to combat the crisis, which is why the Federation of Quebec Alzheimer Societies is calling on our government institutions to take immediate action.
The new report from Alzheimer Society of Canada , The Landmark Study – Report 1: Navigating a Path Forward for Dementia in Canada, is the first significant update since 2010 on the prevalence of dementia and the increase in cases. The report’s conclusions are clear: like the rest of Canada, Quebec will face major difficulties in supporting people living with dementia and their caregivers over the next three decades.
In addition to the massive impact on an already overwhelmed healthcare system, this premise suggests an exponential impact on health services coupled with substantial repercussions on caregivers whose numbers are increasing steadily. In fact, Quebec could face major economic and social challenges if significant numbers of people, women in particular, are forced to leave the workforce to care for family members living with dementia. This is a worrisome scenario especially in light of current labour shortages.
Delaying the Onset of Dementia: Our Challenge for the Years Ahead
The report outlines a clear path to follow in order to face this crisis: addressing the risk factors and delaying the onset of dementia. The three hypothetical scenarios in which the onset of dementia is delayed by 1, 5 or 10 years unilaterally demonstrate the importance of risk reduction and the significant positive impact it has. Delaying dementia in a person by only one year could result in approximately 114,000 fewer dementia diagnoses by 2050 and have a major effect on provincial dementia rates. Furthermore, delaying the onset of dementia by 10 years could mean more than 900,000 cases would be prevented by 2050. In addition to reducing pressure on the healthcare system, delaying the onset of dementia could reduce the number of caregivers and the countless hours they devote to caregiving, allowing them instead to focus on their professional and personal lives without having to bear an additional load.
The government and the entire population must be ready to take measures to reduce the risk factors associated with the likelihood of dementia. As individuals, we can reduce these risks by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, taking control of our health and increasing our physical and social activities. But these efforts will not be beneficial without the widespread deployment of concrete actions supported by our government institutions. By acting now, our elected officials will have the power to chance the outcome for years to come.
Remember: dementia is not a normal part of the aging process. Canada’s national dementia strategy is an important first step, but governments at all levels must join with stakeholders across the country to recognize Alzheimer’s disease as a chronic illness and a public health issue; implement awareness and prevention campaigns regarding risk factors; promote early diagnosis; invest in social, cognitive and physical activities adapted for seniors; and provide greater investments in dementia research.
It is crucial that we act immediately to implement all possible measures to stop Quebec from hitting a wall.