According to a report from the Alzheimer Society of Canada authored by scientist Dr. Joshua J. Armstrong, more than a million Canadians are forecast to be living with dementia by 2030, a date by which it is estimated that 21 people will be diagnosed with dementia every hour. This forecast is expected to rise to 1.7 million Canadians living with dementia by 2050.
These are some of the key findings of “Navigating the Path Forward for Dementia in Canada,” the first volume of 3 in the new Landmark Study series, released on September 6th 2022 by the Alzheimer Society of Canada.
“As the baby boomer generation continues to age, Canadians will face a number of challenges to ensure that people living with dementia continue to live their best possible lives,” says Dr. Armstrong, “Our study, which created its projections using demographic data from Statistics Canada in a micro-simulation model, also demonstrates the power of risk reduction. With effective mitigation efforts on the parts of individuals, combined with increased supports from all levels of government, the potential exists to drastically reduce the number of Canadians who will develop dementia in the next three decades. This would have a positive impact on our health-care system and on the family members and care partners of people living with dementia.”
Highlights from the report include:
- The report outlines three scenarios in which the onset of dementia in Canadians is delayed by one, five or 10 years.
- In 2020, there were 350,000 friends and family members of people living with dementia serving as care partners, averaging 26 hours of care per week. That is the equivalent of 235,000 full-time unpaid jobs and is valued at more than $7.3 billion annually.
- If current trends continue, the number of hours of service provided by caregiving partners could reach almost 1.4 billion hours annually by 2050. That is equal to over 690,000 full-time jobs.
Dr. Saskia Sivananthan, Chief Research & Knowledge, Translation and Exchange Officer with the Alzheimer Society of Canada, says: “The report should be seen as a wake-up call for Canadians. It lays out clear, actionable steps that the federal government, the health care system and all Canadians can and should take to change this trajectory with positive outcomes for all people living with dementia. Governments at all levels must commit to providing more resources to support programs, especially home care, to help people living with dementia in their own communities. Investing more in dementia research as aspired to in Canada’s National Dementia Strategy is the only way we can truly change the outcomes of dementia.”
Insider Tips for Dementia Risk Mitigation
As it turns out, there are 12 lifestyle modifications you can make throughout your life that can reduce your risk factor for dementia by up to 40%. See below for this easy-to-recall list; share with your loved ones and create a strategy to support each other on your wellness journey.
- Physical activity. Any kind will do, just make sure you get up and get out.
- Protect your heart. Monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. What is good for the heart is good for the brain.
- Stay socially active. Place a priority on maintaining your social network and your family relationships.
- Manage your medical conditions. Staying on top of your health with confidence is good for your brain health and may help you avoid dementia as you get older.
- Always take the opportunity to learn new things. Challenge yourself with mental leisure activities that you enjoy.
- Sleep. Try to get 6 to 8 hours sleep per night for optimal brain health.
- Mental health. Seek help to improve the functioning of your brain. Have depression, anxiety or other mental health issues treated.
- Limit alcohol. The research is out, and drinking alcohol is officially very bad for your health, your brain included.
- Find meaning in life. Having a purpose is an important part of feeling fulfilled in life, and keeping your brain active.
- Be careful with your hearing. Limit loud concerts or earphones with the volume up. Use hearing aids if you need to.
- Avoid all types of head injury. Prioritize head safety and make sure you wear a helmet when doing relevant sports.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Reduce or cut out processed foods from your diet, eat a wide variety of whole foods, reduce avoidable stress, reduce or stop smoking, see your doctor for regular check-ups.
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