OTTAWA — The federal government released the details of it national strategy on dementia today that focuses on preventing the affliction, supporting caregivers and finding cures.
“We’ve made it very clear that we need to improve the quality of life for those living with dementia and in this country we have of 420,000 Canadian, that we know of,” Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said Monday. “We know that number is probably even higher and is going to increase as the years go on.”
Prevention is a major emphasis in the $50-million strategy, with the government hoping if Canadians get more exercise, eat better and don’t smoke, they’ll avoid dementia causes such as strokes.
The government also wants help to be more readily available to caregivers and make them more willing to ask for it.
Heart and Stroke Foundation happy with plan
The Heart and Stroke Foundation is Heart and Stroke is applauding strategy, but also calling for more work to develop prevention measures and treatments.
It says new research reveals a direct connection between heart disease, stroke and vascular dementia, which is caused by blood vessel disease and damage to the brain.
The foundation says in many cases, a healthier lifestyle could reduce the number of people developing dementia. It wants Ottawa to finish a Healthy Eating Strategy and make investments promoting active transportation that can help with being physically active.
According to federal statistics, more than 419,000 Canadian seniors have been diagnosed with some form of dementia, and they rely on an average of 26 hours a week of help from relatives and friends.
Most people with dementia and most caregivers are women.
Mental decline can have many different causes but there are few treatments and those that exist don’t do much but slow dementia’s progression.
With files from The Canadian Press