Dementia is a debilitating, progressive, and fatal condition that places significant physical, emotional and psychological stress on patients. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for approximately 60%-70% of dementia cases.

The term dementia is used to describe a set of symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by disease and/or other conditions. These symptoms impact a person’s ability to perform everyday activities, and may include memory loss, impaired judgment or reasoning, difficulty processing information or problem-solving, difficulty with planning and execution, challenges understanding or producing language, changes in mood or behaviour, and decreased motor function.

The prevalence of dementia in society is expected to grow significantly over the next several years as the risk for the condition doubles every five years after age 65. By 2020, it’s estimated that approximately 250,000 seniors in Ontario will be living with dementia up from about 200,000 in 2015.

In 2015, the OMA recommended that the government establish a provincial Dementia Strategy, a system approach to enable dementia patients and their caregivers to access timely medical care and community support services so that they can remain in their homes as long as possible.

The OMA identified the need for:

  • Specialized education for home care providers to be able to address the unique and complex needs of patients with dementia.
  • Specialized long term care services that are designed to care for patients with dementia, with shorter wait times for patients to access these facilities, especially in the final stages of the condition when home care may no longer be possible.
  • Investment to educate health care providers and community care providers with specialized knowledge in caring for seniors with complex care issues like dementia.
  • Access to community, respite, and home support services to provide relief for informal care givers.
  • Public education about dementia, its symptoms, and the benefits of early diagnosis, so that patients and their families can prepare and proactively plan for what is to come.

In 2016, the government announced it would be developing a dementia strategy that would focus on many of the OMA’s recommendations. In 2017 it announced funding for this initiative. Ontario’s physicians would like to see even more progress made towards addressing the needs of dementia patients as soon as possible.

Many individuals living with dementia stay in their homes, often supported by family members. Family caregivers are often older and frail themselves. Thus, the strain of caring for someone with dementia can be overwhelming.

Ontario’s Doctors have prepared some information resources to help you learn more about dementia, including how to tell the difference between normal aging and dementia; and important tips about how to care for a patient with dementia. Click below to read and download the materials


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