As Alzheimer’s month comes to an end, we are reflecting on the progress and momentum that has been building throughout organizations, families and policy makers.
Current estimates indicate 35.6 million people worldwide are living with dementia but with the world’s populations aging, the World Health Organization estimates that number will nearly double every 20 years, to an estimated 65.7 million in 2030, and 115.4 million in 2050. A remarkable 83 per cent of Canadians want a national dementia strategy.
According to The 2013 World Alzheimer Report , the traditional system of “informal” care by family, friends, and community will require much greater support as the world’s population ages. What can we do?
The best way to respond to these challenges involves collaboration, innovative thinking, and the ability to show up for one another. Here are some exciting highlights of dementia initiatives happening now.
1) Dementia Friends
The goal is to make England a dementia friendly place to be. Dementia Friends is creating awareness and understanding of dementia throughout the general population. They are also engaging citizens and asking them to consider the small things they can do that can make a difference to people living with dementia – from helping someone find the right bus to spreading the word about dementia. It is also about ensuring that people with dementia feel included in their communities.
Dementia Friends want to create a network of a million Dementia Friends across England by 2015.
2) Canada’s Call for a National Dementia Strategy
Last week, The Alzheimer Society of Canada called on the Federal Government to immediately establish a Canadian Alzheimer’s disease and dementia partnership to lead and facilitate the development and implementation of a national dementia strategy. The Society made its call to action in a speech delivered by CEO Mimi Lowi-Young at the Economic Club of Canada.
“Dementia is a huge threat to our public health system and to our nation’s productivity,” says Lowi-Young. “By 2040, Canada will spend $293 billion a year on this disease alone. We have the best minds and the best of intentions, yet what is missing is a fully coordinated response to curb costs and meet the crushing needs of families and those living with this profoundly life-altering and ultimately, fatal disease.”
According to The Alzheimer Society of Canada, family caregivers spent in excess of 444 million unpaid hours in 2011 looking after someone with cognitive impairment, including dementia. The ASC identified a mandate including recognizing family caregiver needs and developing supports that provide options and flexibility.
3) UK to use G8 to target global effort on dementia
The UK will use its Presidency of the G8 to identify and agree a new international approach on dementia research in recognition that the condition is fast becoming the biggest pressure on care systems around the world.
As part of the UK Presidency, the UK and US are exploring opportunities to advance thinking on dementia research and identify opportunities for more international collaboration. This joint leadership will help to tackle key issues such as facilitating the discovery and development of drugs and to advance thinking on future treatments and therapies.
4) Alzheimer’s research gets $45 million funding boost in the US
This month, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced grants for research to find therapies for Alzheimer’s. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the USA, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The funding includes $40 million from the Office of the NIH Director, Francis Collins. Additional funding will come from the National Institute on Aging.
Although there is immense gratitude for this funding, there is still a continuous push to access more funding. It will be interesting to see what sort of innovative strategies or programs emerge through this enhanced support.
5) Tyze partners with the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia
We are proud to provide an interactive, unique tool that makes it easier for families to update one another, share important information about care and mobilize support for family members and individuals.
Through our partnership with the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia, individuals and families have access to Tyze networks. Willow started using Tyze after being introduced to it at the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia. It resonated for her because she wanted a way to keep everyone updated about her partner for whom she is the primary caregiver. Willow explained that when she heard about Tyze from the support coordinator, she thought “this is exactly what I’ve been wanting’. Willow puts appointments into the calendar and updates everyone after appointments to keep everyone in the loop. Willow describes herself as the ‘hub of the wheel’.
“My main purpose at this point is to keep all the family updated with what’s happening. I’m the person that looks after him and keeps his life organized and goes to the appointments with him and all of that. So all the doctors and all the connections have my phone numbers. The pharmacist, the Alzheimer program at the Alzheimer’s Society and the O.T. You name it, they call me and so I know everything that’s going on in his life, and so the rest of the family comes to me when they want to know what’s happening. And with Tyze, I can just write it down once and if they want to know it’s happening, they can go to Tyze and look it up,” explained Willow.
Please feel welcome to comment below and share your stories in caring with us! What solutions do you see working in your community?