In Ontario today, 200,000 seniors are living with some form of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. As Baby Boomers age, the number of seniors with dementia is expected to increase dramatically to 250,000 by the end of the decade.
Long-term care beds and resources are scarce. Imagine what the future holds! Currently, only a limited number of long-term care homes have the resources to accept patients with dementia.
This shortage has led to longer wait times for people with dementia. Today, Ontarians wait an average of almost four months, sometimes as long as 269 days depending on the region, for a long-term care bed.
Once accepted, anti-psychotic medication and physical restraints have become methods of "caring" for people with dementia, often considered "harder-to-care-for." No wonder: inadequately staffed long-term care homes have no requirements for their personnel to obtain dementia-specific training before providing care!
Alzheimer Societies are calling on the Ontario Government to reduce the challenges faced by people with dementia and their families in the community and in long-term care. Urge your MPP to make people with dementia and their families the priority by creating policies targeted to dementia care through a comprehensive dementia plan.
In Ontario today, 200,000 people have dementia and they need your help. The presence of dementia adds complexity to the treatment and management of other health conditions, increasing the challenge of care by a factor of 10.
Today, a person in Ontario will wait an average of almost 4 months for a long-term care bed. This wait time varies considerably across the province with some regions waiting over 8 months. After they receive a bed, a quarter of them are put on anti-psychotic medication to control behaviours, even though these medications are not clinically recommended for this population and there are effective non-drug alternatives available. The high use of these drugs is an indication that staff are not equipped with effective non-drug alternatives and lack time to seek additional training.
Solutions to these problems exist. I am asking you, as a member of the Legislature, to commit to reducing these challenges by supporting a comprehensive strategy to:
1. Make dementia clients and their families the priority in the next round of community funding through explicit policies for the provision of dementia care in the community.
2. Establish a fair and standardized wait time for long-term care so that persons with dementia have equal access and do not wait longer in some parts of the province.
3. Provide for more staff in long-term care with specific skills to support persons with dementia. Use Behavioural Supports Ontario as the model.
Working together, we can offer people living with dementia and their caregivers the best care for today, and for all Ontarians the best hope for tomorrow.
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To learn more, visit our website at www.alzheimerontario.ca
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