Developing a Dementia Strategy. Is this news?

There was a recent letter in The Toronto Star, advocating, once again, for a national dementia strategy.

Readers’ letters to The Star

For those of us working in the field, this is probably not news. However, of interest, I was recently invited to attend one of several round table discussions that Ontario’s Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, MPP for Halton, Indira Naidoo-Harris is holding across the Province. Ontario is looking at developing its own dementia strategy and a wide range of stakeholders; providers, persons with dementia and their caregivers are being invited to sit down and share their stories. It seems that Ontario is committed to this strategy and everyone should be encouraged to get involved. Your local chapter of the Alzheimer Society can help, if you, or someone you know, wants to be part of the process.

Ontario Dementia Strategy

In fact, the anticipated cost of dementia in Canada continues to be a staggering figure that demands local, provincial and national attention.

How do you plan to get involved? Leave a comment! Let’s start a conversation right now!


Caregiver Support in Dementia Care

Recently, the topic of caregiving has been grabbing some media attention. As the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s Rising Tide report concluded back in 2010 ( Rising Tide Report ) caregivers assume a great deal of the responsibility for dementia care and they need training as well as support.

A publication produced by Baycrest Health Sciences geared towards caregivers of persons with dementia has just been released. Dementia: A Caregiver’s Guide. Information and strategies for family and friends, is the third edition of this Canadian manual. Based on scientific literature, advice from professionals and feedback from clients and caregivers, this educational guide is designed to provide information and give practical tips and strategies to help those who care for someone with dementia.

Toronto Star columnist and seniors’ advocate Carol Goar, wrote a piece on Wednesday, Oct. 28th, in the Star’s Opinion/Commentary section. As well, Sylvia Davidson was interviewed by AM740 Radio host Dale Goldhawk on Thursday, Oct. 22nd.

Check out the links to these 2 media events: The Star: Carol Goar and Radio 740: Dale Goldhawk

Dementia in the News

You have probably heard the very interesting news last week, from The Lancet – Neurology. Researchers examining findings from a number of large studies looking at the occurrence of dementia, are suggesting that the normally gloomy predictions may not be entirely accurate, with a lower prevalence of dementia in 65 year olds than originally predicted, at least in some European countries. Here is a link to the update from the CBC news:

Dementia stabilized in Europe, studies suggest

The discussions about how much faith to put in this announcement have only begun, with most experts suggesting that there must be further study. However, without a doubt, for those of us who have consistently tried to promote increased education and improved awareness, this is positive news. I know that all of you struggle with the challenges this illness presents to older adults, working against the stigma that many associate with dementia. With this news, we may begin to see greater focus on health promotion efforts targeting brain health. This would be a welcome addition to the continued emphasis on pharmaceuticals. Kudos to everyone who has been calling attention to this! Your efforts are not in vain.

And as I reflect on the ongoing work that so many do in the field of dementia care, I am also reflecting, at the moment, on our summer months drawing to a close. While we try and make the most of the remaining days in August, many are gearing up for the fall. September marks many things; back to school, fall fairs, High Holidays. But September is also World Alzheimer’s Month; an opportunity to promote awareness of dementia, with a focus on Alzheimer’s Disease, around the world. September 21st is one day during the month, that is recognized as World Alzheimer’s Day, with many exciting events happening. I am very proud to be a part of this year’s recognition of World Alzheimer’s Day at Mount Sinai Hospital, in Toronto. Sponsored by The Cyril & Dorothy, Joel & Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training, this will be an education event for carers and health professionals. Here are the details: Alzheimer Flyer – FINAL

What might you be doing on September 21st, to mark this important day? Let us know! We want to hear from you; every voice matters, every voice counts!

The Globe and Mail – Investigative Series on changes to the homecare system in Ontario for older adults

Have a read of these recent articles in the Globe and Mail on the topic of changes to homecare services in Ontario for older adults.

Alzheimer’s researchers intrigued by U of A study of possible saliva test

EDMONTON – A new University of Alberta research study suggests testing saliva could predict the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s too early to say and more research is required, said lead author Shraddha Sapkota, but initial findings are promising.

Find out more at:

Demand a Plan

CAOT has joined the Canadian Medical Association for the Demand a Plan Call for a National Seniors Strategy.  Canadian Seniors are not getting the health care they need.  We can add our voices to encourage the government to create a National Strategy for Seniors.

For more information and to sign up, visit:

Willing to help someone with dementia? Alzheimer Society, Government of Canada has launch campaign

A new Alzheimer Society of Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada initiative is hoping to change that hesitancy. The new program, called Dementia Friends Canada, is aiming to recruit one million Canadians who will learn more about the disease, so they can raise awareness about how to help those living with dementia around them.

The joint venture is the “biggest ever campaign” to tackle stigma and build awareness, according to the society. Government officials and society experts launched the program Friday in Edmonton.

Sign up for Dementia Friends Canada here

Their aim is to hit the one million mark by 2017. They’re rolling out ad campaigns nationwide and appealing to members of Parliament, Canadian celebrities and major corporations to support the cause.

Read more at:

Don’t forget the Caregivers looking after Dementia Family Members

So with Federal Government’s recent budget proposals re Home Accessibility Tax credit (proposed 15-per-cent non-refundable income tax credit would apply on up to $10,000 of eligible home renovation expenditures per year) & Compassionate Care Benefits (providing financial assistance to people who have to be away from work temporarily to care for a family member who is gravely ill and at significant risk of death), are caregivers going to better supported? 

Last Fall, I went back to the UK to give my brother & his family respite to look after my elderly & confused mother. It was only 2 weeks while they went on holiday. Of course, I thought I knew it all when I came to stay. Didn’t I work in Community Care? I help my client’s & families with all the resources available to Dementia Care? So no big deal if I go down & give them a break ? The other side of the looking glass is very different… no sleep, exhausted & with aching back, I returned, mentally & physically exhausted.

The emphasis  Provincial &  Federal Budgets is to keep the client at home for as long as possible. With this push, it still falls on the family member to pick up the slack.

I read Mark Stolow’s blog on the lack of caregiver self-recognition in Dementia Care, the myths & expectations  that society places on them. (Mark Stolow is the President of The Caregiver Network. He co-founded the organization in 2004 and has helped to grow it into the largest tele-learning Network in Canada in support of family caregivers)

He discusses how “we make it nearly impossible for family members to say “no” to caregiving or set healthy boundaries while caregiving. Guilt is a common caregiver emotion and there’s no greater guilt engine then the feeling that if you ask for help that somehow you are either ill equipped or unwilling to fulfill your filial mission. “ The system that ‘that surrounds caregivers also fails to see them as caregivers, and thus fails to adequately acknowledge and support them.’

Another Dementia expert is Teepa Snow.

Teepa Snow is considered one of America’s leading educators on dementia. A registered occupational therapist for more than 30 years, her philosophy reflects her education, work experience, available medical research and her first-hand care giving interactions. Her early days as a caregiver were spent taking care of her grandfather who had vascular dementia. She realized she was a good caregiver and went to college and then began working with people with dementia, and has picked up more skills along the way, which she now passes on to others.

The Caregiver Show, coming up Saturday, May 30, at Centennial College in Scarborough. The Caregiver Show will be inside the Athletics Wellness Centre at Centennial College’s Progress Campus, 941 Progress Ave., from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit 

So what are your thoughts on the Dementia caregiver prospective? Have you had to look after a loved one & seen through the other side of the looking glass?