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Govt. launches national dementia strategy

The number of cases of people suffering dementia across Canada is increasing. Within the South Asian community, the challenge is dealing with the social stigma associated with dementia. This makes the government’s recently-released national dementia strategy all the more important.

CARP (Canadian Association of Retired People) has applauded Canada’s first national dementia strategy and additional funding for Phase II of the Canadian Consortium of Neurodegeneration of Aging (CCNA), the largest national dementia research initiative.

CCNA, which CARP is partner to, will receive a total $46-million investment; $31.6 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and $14.4 million from 11 other funding partners.

The strategy has three broad objectives: preventing dementia, advancing therapies and finding a cure, and improving the quality of life for people with dementia, their caregivers and families.

“More than 66% of CARP’s 320,000 members are concerned about dementia or loss of their cognitive abilities,” states Laura Tamblyn Watts, Chief Public Policy Officer at CARP. “This national strategy is especially timely as people are living longer than ever before.”

Dementia is already a rising tide in Canada. More than 419,000 older adults are living with dementia; nine more are diagnosed every hour.

It is important to diagnose the problem early. Here are some ways to figure out if an elderly family member may be suffering an early onset of dementia.
• Trouble with memory can be an early symptom of dementia. The changes are often subtle and tend to involve short-term memory.
• Another early symptom is struggling to communicate thoughts. A person with dementia may have difficulty explaining something or finding the right words.
• A change in mood is also common. Depression, for instance, is typical of early dementia.
• A person with symptoms could lose interest in hobbies or activities. They may not want to go out anymore or do anything fun.
• A subtle shift in the ability to complete normal tasks may indicate that someone has early dementia.
• Someone in the early stages of dementia may often become confused. When memory, thinking, or judgement lapses, confusion may arise as they can no longer remember faces, find the right words, or interact with people normally.
• Difficulty following storylines is a classic early symptom.
• The sense of direction and spatial orientation commonly starts to deteriorate with the onset of dementia.
• Repetition is common in dementia because of memory loss and general behavioural changes.
• For someone in the early stages of dementia, change can cause fear. Suddenly, they can’t remember people they know or follow what others are saying. -CINEWS

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