Our Call to Action
To improve the quality of life for people living with dementia in our province, Saskatchewan must develop a provincial Dementia Strategy.
Specifically, we are asking for the development of a provincial Dementia Strategy with a focus on three priority areas:
- Improve timely diagnosis and connection to post-diagnostic support. Improve access to timely diagnosis that is communicated in a compassionate manner and includes links to supports and services immediately following the diagnosis.
- Improve supports to stay at home. Increase supports and services, like home care, respite and education for people living with dementia and family caregivers so they have information to better understand dementia and what to expect so they can plan for the future.
- Improve acute care, long-term care and end-of-life care. Provide integrated, person-centered care based on evidence-informed best practices across all settings so that people feel welcome and well-cared for when hospitalization or admission to long-term care is necessary.
- Timely diagnosis and connection to post-diagnostic support
It is estimated that only 50% of people who have dementia receive a diagnosis. Timely communication of symptoms to health professionals together with greater confidence among primary care practitioners in diagnosing dementia are key to maximizing the quality of life for people living with dementia. People living with dementia and caregivers would benefit from easier access to care and supports available in their community.
- Improve supports to stay at home
Keeping individuals with dementia in their homes in community and out of long-term care facilities not only costs less but is the preference of families impacted by dementia. Investments in home care and day and night respite will be required to meet the increased demand for these services. Unpaid/family caregivers of those with dementia spend more time providing care and face higher levels of distress than those caring for other seniors. Caregivers need education and support to help them manage dementia care.
- Improve acute care, long-term care and end-of-life care
More than two-thirds of residents in long-term care have dementia. Residents with dementia have a higher risk of being given antipsychotics without a diagnosis of psychosis and being restrained than residents without dementia. Seniors with dementia wait longer in emergency departments, are more likely to be admitted and are more prone to hospital harm. Seniors with a dementia diagnosis are less likely to be referred for palliative and/or end of life care, which includes proper pain medication and hospice care.
Understanding the issue
Dementia is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of brain disorders that affect the physical structure of the brain.
Many neurodegenerative, progressive conditions can cause dementia as they affect the physical structure of the brain. These include: Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, Lewy Body disease, Fronto-temporal dementia (FTD), Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.
Dementia is progressive, which means the symptoms gradually get worse as more brain cells become damaged and eventually die. Symptoms may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities. A person with dementia may also experience changes in mood or behaviour.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a fatal disease that eventually affects all aspects of a person’s life: how they think, feel, and act. Every individual's experience with dementia is unique.
Age is a risk factor associated with dementia, but dementia is not a normal part of aging. Dementia can occur in people in their 50s, 40s and even in their 30s.
Key Statistics on Dementia:
- Over 20,000 Saskatchewanians are living with dementia and by 2038 this number is expected to exceed 28,000.
- 65 percent of people living with dementia in Saskatchewan are women.
- An average of 26 hours per week of informal care is provided to seniors with dementia by unpaid caregivers, primarily adult children and spouses.
- 61% of seniors with dementia live at home; 20% have severe cognitive impairment; 28% require assistance with activities of daily living; 25% experience responsive behaviours; 25% have signs of depression. Care partners of people with dementia living in the community require significant support.
- Unpaid care partners of seniors with dementia are almost twice as likely to experience distress (45%) than caregivers of other seniors (26%). Factors that contribute to distress are the provision of more than 20 hours of care weekly, higher cognitive impairment and behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, medical instability for the care partner and financial pressure.
- Seniors with dementia have a 15% higher rate of falls than other seniors. 39% of seniors with dementia receiving Home Care have falls.
- 3% of people with dementia are under the age of 65. For these individuals, finding age appropriate services in the community is difficult. The person may be employed and rearing raising children at the time of diagnosis.
- Older adults with dementia have higher hospitalization rates than other older Canadians.
- There is a 4X higher mortality rate for seniors living with dementia than other seniors.
- Policy changes and educational supports help improve the quality of care for residents with dementia in long-term care facilities.