Over next 30 years, de­men­tia and its ef­fects could reach cri­sis pro­por­tions

Cape Breton Post - - OUR COMMUNITY - Rus­sell MacDon­ald

For those of you who have not been read­ing the pa­pers over the past month, The Ris­ing Tide: The Im­pact of De­men­tia in Canada, refers to a study which was re­cently re­leased by the Alzheimer’s So­ci­ety of Canada.

The pur­pose of this study was to track de­men­tia and its ef­fects over the next 30 years and what it is say­ing is very dis­turb­ing. It in­di­cates that at present, there is a new case hap­pen­ing in Canada ev­ery five min­utes. In 2038, that jumps to a new case ev­ery two min­utes. At present, there are ap­prox­i­mately 231 mil­lion hours of in­for­mal care given to peo­ple with de­men­tia. In 2038, that will rise to 756 mil­lion hours of care re­quired.

Th­ese are very alarm­ing statis­tics and must be rec­og­nized by all lev­els of gov­ern­ment. Al­ready, some coun­tries such as Aus­tralia, Nor­way, France, Scot­land and the Nether­lands have de­vel­oped plans to deal with this emer­gency. Ac­cord­ing to the Ris­ing Tide Re­port, there are a num­ber of in­ter­ven­tions that could be im­ple­mented that could re­duce the im­pact of de­men­tia but the ones that jumped out at me were the in­crease of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity in our lives and the qual­ity and amount of train­ing and sup­port given to our care­givers. I think it is im­por­tant to rec­og­nize that, at present, we have long-term nurs­ing facil­ties that han­dle chronic cases of Alzheimer’s dis­ease, but if the num­bers prove to be cor­rect, there may not be the fa­cil­i­ties avail­able in 30 years to meet the need. There­fore, I think it is in­cum­bent on all of us to be as proac­tive as we can.

That means try­ing to be more phys­i­cally ac­tive. This may be more eas­ily said than done, es­pe­cially if you live with a phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity or if you live in an area with lit­tle or no op­por­tu­ni­ties to be ac­tive. Go­ing along with be­ing more phys­i­cally ac­tive is the need for more brain ex­er­cise. This could mean play­ing games such as chess, check­ers, jigsaws and crossword puz­zles. You may want to pur­sue new hob­bies like play­ing a mu­si­cal in­stru­ment, learn­ing to do car­pen­try or sewing or read­ing a book and dis­cussing it with a friend. Go­ing hand in hand with all of this is try­ing to eat nu­tri­tious meals on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. For those of you out there who may be liv­ing with a loved one suf­fer­ing from de­men­tia or Alzheimer’s, it is im­por­tant to know that there are sup­port ser­vices. It is com­fort­ing to know that groups are work­ing to im­prove upon th­ese.

This ar­ti­cle barely scratches the sur­face of what we should know about de­men­tia and Alzheimer’s dis­ease. If you have ac­cess to a com­puter, I would rec­om­mend that you go on­line and Google in ‘ Ris­ing Tide’ where you can read the full re­port of this study or you may visit www.alzheimer.ca for plenty of use­ful in­for­ma­tion.

Un­til we meet again, Happy Trails.

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