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“Time to roll up sleeves” in face of dementia epidemic: CMA

Is Canada prepared for the “dementia epidemic” that it faces? The CMA says it isn’t, and it had better start getting ready soon.

“Our acute care hospitals are overflowing with patients awaiting placement in long-term care, and the long-term-care facilities that do exist are understaffed, underspaced and underequipped to care for our most vulnerable seniors,” CMA President-elect Chris Simpson said prior to the G8’s recent Dementia Summit in London.

The annual cost in terms of direct health care costs and indirect costs such as income lost by family members who act as caregivers is already significant, standing at $33 billion annually. However, the Alzheimer Society of Canada expects the dementia price tag will grow almost 10-fold by 2040, when it is expected to reach $293 billion annually.

Simpson says the human cost is also staggering. “Patients and their families are left in limbo, struggling to fill these gaps in our system,” he said. “That is why the CMA recommends that we invest in a dementia strategy as part of a national seniors care strategy — it is time to roll up our sleeves.”

The strategy’s goals would include expanding research and providing increased support to informal caregivers.

Simpson’s comments follow the CMA’s recent pre-budget submission, which called on the federal government to invest $25 million in a dementia strategy over five years.

The Dementia Summit did produce some positive news when it ended Dec. 11, with G8 health ministers vowing to find a cure or treatment for dementia within the next 12 years.

The Alzheimer’s Association in the US says the disease is the only one of the top 10 killers for which there is no form of prevention or treatment.

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