Ontario's doctors call on government to implement a province-wide dementia strategy

TORONTO, Feb. 29, 2016 /CNW/ - In a report released today, Ontario's doctors outlined seven key recommendations that must be addressed in a province-wide dementia strategy to improve care, co-ordination, and the ability of the health-care system to meet the needs of both patients and caregivers.

"Patients and caregivers need government to work together with health-care leaders to improve access to medical care and support services for dementia," said Dr. Mike Toth, President of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). "Right now a diagnosis of dementia leads down a difficult and isolating road – more must be done to help patients and those assisting with their care."

Dementia is a debilitating, progressive and fatal condition that places significant physical, emotional and psychological stress on patients. The report, Ontario Physicians Supporting Patients with Dementia – A Call for an Ontario Dementia Strategy, highlights the fact that the risk for the condition doubles every five years after age 65 and that by 2020 approximately 250,000 seniors in Ontario will be living with dementia, putting considerable pressure on the Ontario health-care system in the coming years.

Currently, there is no coordinated approach to ensure that patients and caregivers have access to medical care, allied health-professionals, self-care resources, community supports and long-term care equally across the province.

In addition, doctors see first-hand that the overwhelming strain of caring for someone with dementia and the physical and/or mental illness experienced by many caregivers who are often elderly husbands, wives, or family members.

"When diagnosing an Alzheimer's/dementia patient you are not just diagnosing the individual with the disease; you are in one stroke, assigning a remarkably challenging new lifestyle to at least one member of a family," said David Kelso, Publisher, CEO and President of Alzlive.com, an online resource for caregivers. "My father died caregiving for my mother, and that is one of the many reasons why I feel so strongly that the health of the unpaid family caregivers of Ontario needs to be taken into account as we plan how to deal with the oncoming Tsunami".

Family caregivers often put the needs of their loved one ahead of their own. With as many as 25 per cent of caregivers having two or more chronic health conditions of their own, a dementia strategy could help improve the medical care for them as well.

Ontario doctors are putting forward seven recommendations that should be part of an Ontario Dementia Strategy (ODS) including:

  1. Educating the public about dementia, its symptoms, and about the benefits of early diagnosis.
  2. Facilitating the creation of system approaches that support access to timely medical and supportive care for dementia patients.
  3. Addressing access to community, respite care and home support services to provide relief for informal caregivers.
  4. Providing for specialized long term care services that are designed to care for patients with dementia.

The physician-patient relationship is key to ensuring quality of life is maintained and that those living with multiple chronic conditions, for example dementia and high-blood pressure, receive proper preventative and follow-up care.

"Living well with dementia is the right of every person who is diagnosed with the condition," said Dr. Toth. "By bringing forward these recommendations, doctors see this as an opportunity to have patients, physicians, health-care professionals and government work together to build the necessary links between medical care and community supports."

For a copy of the paper please visit: OMA Health Policy

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) represents more than 34,000 physicians and medical students across the province. Ontario's doctors work closely with patients to encourage healthy living practices and illness prevention. In addition to delivering front-line services to patients, Ontario's doctors play a significant role in helping shape health care policy, as well as implementing initiatives that strengthen and enhance Ontario's health care system.

SOURCE Ontario Medical Association

For further information: please contact: Nadia Daniell-Colarossi, Manager Media Relations, Office: 416-340-2970 or 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2970, Mobile: 416-804-4600, Email: nadia.daniell-colarossi@oma.org; Danielle Milley, Senior Advisor Media Relations, Office: 416-599-2580 or 1-800-268-7215 ext. 3008, Mobile: 647-300-0081, Email: danielle.milley@oma.org


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