The Alzheimer Society is striving for an Ontario where people living with dementia and their care partners have access to the resources and services they need and where they are supported to live well.
With over 228,000 people in Ontario living with dementia today, we need an Ontario dementia strategy to make sure that our communities receive the support they need. The Alzheimer Society of Ontario has led the movement to have a fully-funded dementia strategy included in the Ontario government’s 2017 budget, which was backed by over 8,000 letters sent by concerned Ontarians to MPPs across the province. In 2017, this need was supported with a commitment to $101M over three years to implement the provincial strategy.
We know, however, that we still face a harsh reality in our province: dementia prevalence continues to rise—in just 20 years the number of people living with dementia will double in our province.
The funding commitment made to Ontario’s Dementia Strategy in last year’s budget was an important step forward—a commitment that has been reaffirmed in the 2018 Ontario Budget. It is critical that this investment, and the programs and services it aids, continue to be supported by Government.
Most people living with dementia will be living in the community where family and friends will be supporting and caring for them. Among persons living in the community with a diagnosis of dementia in 2013, almost 9,000 are under the age of 65—a number that is surely growing—many of whom are still working and may have young children still at home.
Those caring for people living with dementia continue to face immense stress and hardship. Care partners to people living with dementia provide 75 per cent more care hours than other care partners and experience 20 per cent greater distress—many of whom are working people. As our population ages and the complexity of conditions among home care recipients increases, care partner distress will become an even more pressing issue. Services that address the needs to care partners are needed to enable people to carry on.
Dementia strategy investments are already making a difference across Ontario. In 2017, we saw enhancements to vital programs and services for people living with dementia and care partners. This includes investments in First Link®, an Alzheimer Society program that connects people to the supports and services they need as early as possible after a dementia diagnosis, as well as community dementia programs that provide meaningful recreation and engagement for people living with dementia and much needed respite for care partners. It is essential that these investments not only continue, but grow.
We must ensure that people living with dementia and their care partners have the support they need to live well at home and in the community – the setting of their choice—for as long as possible not only now, but in future as well.
The Alzheimer Society is dedicated to this goal, which is why we are asking Ontarians to again join us and to take Action for Dementia. It is vital that continued commitment to dementia strategy funding be included in the 2018 provincial budget and that this investment continues to be supported by all elected representatives in the House and through our spring election.
Join us at www.actionfordementia.ca.