Letter: Time to act on Ontario’s Dementia Strategy


On September 21, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care released Developing Ontario’s Dementia Strategy: A Discussion Paper.

The discussion paper is a result of many consultations across the province with health care experts in dementia, persons with dementia and their caregivers.

Dementia is an umbrella term for all of the dementias such as Alzheimer disease, Pick’s Disease, young onset dementia, vascular dementia etc.

In Chatham-Kent there are more than 3,000 persons with dementia. This represents almost 3% of all the people of Chatham-Kent. This number is expected to almost double by 2038. There is almost a 100% chance that you know someone who has dementia or someone who is a caregiver for a person with dementia.

If so, you may know a little about what the diagnosis means to family and friends.

According to the Ontario Dementia Profile Series published by the Alzheimer Society of Ontario and contributions from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (a not-for- profit research institute with access to health-related administrative data), we have seen a 42% increase since 2007 in the number of people with a diagnosis of dementia.

In 2013, 77% of people living in the community had 6 or more co-morbid conditions – e.g. diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. The complexity of dementia combined with these other conditions makes providing care even more difficult.

As of 2016, (in Canada) the combined health-care system and out-of- pocket caregiver costs are estimated at $10.4 billion per year. By 2031, this figure is expected to increase by 60 per cent, to $16.6 billion. Currently there is little known about the cause and we have no cure. The supports in our health care system are not enough.

We are not prepared. But you can help.

The time for action is now!  The discussion paper highlights challenges and potential activities for change, which have been broken down into six major themes:

– Supports for People Living with Dementia

– Accessing Dementia Services

– Coordinated Care

– Supports for Care Partners

– Well Trained Dementia Workforce

– Awareness, Stigma and Brain Health

The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has questions regarding each theme. You can contribute by first reading the discussion paper and then responding to the questions. Both are available at the link below. The deadline for input is November 18.

Input from as many individuals, groups and community partners is crucial to the development of a strong Dementia Strategy for Ontario. We all need to make the most of this opportunity so we can make change happen for people living with dementia and their care partners.

Your voice matters and you CAN do something about dementia. Become an advocate for dementia by participating in this important consultation process at www.actionfordementia.ca

Further information about the supports and services offered at the Alzheimer Society of Chatham-Kent can be found at www.alzheimer.ca/chathamkent or by calling 519-352-1043.

Mary Ellen Parker, CEO
Alzheimer Society of Chatham-Kent

– Photo credit: Alzheimer Society of Ontario

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