Alzheimer Advocates and Alzheimer Society of Ontario Take Solutions To Queen's Park - Thursday, May 17

TORONTO, May 15, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - If Don Mastin had his way, he would make long-term care facilities more like real homes, introduce more recreational activities and provide ongoing training and education to personal support workers and other staff. At 72, the retired General Motors employee, who lives in Oshawa, has a direct stake in dementia care. Six years ago he was forced to move his beloved wife Eileen, 70, into a long-term care institution. Eileen was a young 59-year-old when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease eleven years ago, just about the time Don was ready to retire.

Today, Don is a staunch Alzheimer's advocate and one of Eileen's biggest champions, which is why he's joining others like himself, people with dementia as well as staff and Board Members of Alzheimer Societies from across Ontario, to bring their concerns about dementia and talk about solutions at a reception at Queen's Park on Thursday, May 17, 2012, hosted by the Alzheimer Society of Ontario (ASO).

The Society will present their Focus ON dementia blueprint that outlines five achievable solutions to improve the quality of care for Ontarians with dementia and help them live more independently longer. The solutions reflect key commitments outlined in Ontario's Health Action Plan and 2012 Budget and include:

...Investing in self-directed care for people with dementia, including their caregivers ...Improving access to primary care, early diagnosis and community support such as ASO's First Link® program, a referral program connecting Alzheimer patients with appropriate local health and medical services ...Increasing dementia workforce skills and training ...Focusing Care Co-ordinators, announced in Ontario's Action Plan for Health Care, on the needs of high-risk seniors ...Risk reduction and promotion of brain health

For the first time in Ontario's history, seniors will outnumber their younger counterparts. Shifting demographics will affect Ontario's health and social services and delivery in unprecedented ways. With the prevalence of dementia set to increase 40 per cent by decade's end, the disease, which remains incurable, will pervade every aspect of our system.

"The facts speak for themselves. We're living longer and dementia is increasing. People with dementia are the biggest consumers of our health resources and are twice as likely to have 10 or more co-morbid conditions,"

says Gale Carey, CEO, Alzheimer Society of Ontario.

"Planning for dementia isn't just good social policy, it makes good economic sense. Our Government has been proactive on many fronts and we need to build on those commitments to reshape our system so that it can support the significant personal and financial costs of dementia now and in the future."

This year, Ontarians caring for people with dementia will devote about 100 million unpaid hours and by 2020, will have grown to more than 140 million hours. Yet high-needs seniors, including dementia caregivers, receive, at most, a few more hours of home care per week than those with moderate needs according to the recent Health Council of Canada report, Seniors in need, caregivers in distress: What are the home care priorities for seniors in Canada.

For Don Mastin, who visits Eileen several times a day, caregiving never stops.

"I would walk 100 miles to make sure she's properly fed. I still have a lot of fight in me to ensure she's happy and well cared for. It's other caregivers that really worry me."

To download Focus ON dementia, please visit: www.alzheimer.ca/on

About dementia

Dementia refers to a group of brain disorders that causes a loss of brain function. Symptoms include loss of memory and behavioural changes, confusion and impaired judgment. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form, accounting for two thirds of dementia cases in Canada today.

About the Alzheimer Society of Ontario

Since 1983, the Alzheimer Society of Ontario (ASO) has been the province's leading care and research charity dedicated to all forms of dementia. With a network of 38 Societies across Ontario, we offer Help for Today through programs and services for people living with dementia and Hope for Tomorrow…® by funding research to find the cause and the cure.