Published on: September 2, 2013
by The Vancouver Sun:
Today, 747,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. By 2031, it could reach 1.4 million.
The combined direct (medical) and indirect costs (lost earnings) of dementia total $33 billion a year. By 2040, this figure will swell to almost $300 billion a year.
Dementia takes a huge toll on family caregivers; in 2011, they spent 444 million unpaid hours caring for someone with dementia. That’s $11 billion in lost income and 227,760 full-time employees. By 2040, dementia caregivers will put in a staggering 1.2 billion unpaid hours per year.
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading form of dementia, accounting for over two-thirds of all dementia cases in Canada today.
Age is the biggest risk factor for dementia; the risk doubles every five years after age 65. Dementia also affects people as young as 40.
Brain-related changes that lead to dementia can begin decades before symptoms appear.
Dementia remains incurable; some medications can help manage the symptoms but none can slow, stop or reverse the disease.
Lifestyle factors such as regular physical, social and mental activity, as well as a heart-healthy diet can help reduce the risk.
Canada is one of the few western countries that does not have a national dementia plan.
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