The Rising Tide of Dementia

Dementia - The Health Crisis

The number of people across the globe with dementia is climbing, and as baby boomers age, dementia is becoming a health crisis.

Rising Tide: the Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society is the final report of an Alzheimer Society project funded by Pfizer Canada, Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Rx&D. The purpose of the report was to:

  • Estimate the health and economic burden of dementia in Canada over the next 30 years
  • Analyze the possible effects of intervention scenarios upon this burden
  • Demonstrate how the proposed interventions could affect the health and economic impacts of dementia in Canada
  • Review policy options
  • Make recommendations on how to address the issue

The Alzheimer Society conducted this ground-breaking research study in conjunction with RiskAnalytica, a leading firm in risk management. The data in Rising Tide were determined through RiskAnalytica's specialized Life at Risk® evaluation framework, combined with the Alzheimer Society's extensive network of leading researchers and clinicians.

The Alzheimer Society released the report in 2010 following a two-year intensive study of the impact of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Rising Tide alerts the Canadian public and federal, provincial and territorial politicians of the need for policies and approaches to address the looming dementia crisis. In the report, you will find four suggested interventions. They are not meant to be definitive but to serve as illustrations of how the base case can inform and shape policy in this field. The five recommendations in the report were developed through a comprehensive process of consultations with subject experts and stakeholders. The underlying message is that we must act now and that change is possible.

You can download an executive summary or the full report below.

The five recommendations are:
  1. Increase the investment in dementia research
    A national dementia plan must include increased investment in all areas of dementia research. Most of our knowledge about dementia care and treatment has resulted from recent research. We can maintain Canada’s leadership role in dementia research by:
    • Leveraging Canadian expertise
    • Encouraging and supporting international partnerships
    • Continuing preventative research so that we can identify individuals at risk and take preventative steps
    • Continuing research to improve quality of life for a person with dementia and his family caregivers at all stages of the disease and at all care levels.

    In response to the impending dementia epidemic we must, as a minimum, triple dementia research spending.

  2. Provide support for family caregivers
    We must clearly recognize the important role played by informal caregivers. Our governments must demonstrate that we value the work of caregivers by making it easier to continue to provide care. We can do this through:
    • Caregiver information and training
    • Meaningful respite care
    • Other programs that can support caregivers, including financial support.

    We must provide meaningful support to caregivers.

  3. Emphasize prevention and early intervention
    A national dementia plan must also focus on:
    • Maintenance of brain health
    • Prevention of dementia
    • Delay of onset
    • Early intervention

    We must recognize the importance of prevention and early intervention.

  4. Build an integrated system of care
    As a leading health policy concept specifically suited to the impending dementia epidemic, Canada's national dementia plan must establish integrated models of care as a priority across all jurisdictions. Only then will there be real improvement in care for Canadians who need complex arrays of specialized medical, community and social services, including people with dementia.

    We must foster greater integration of care and increased use of “best practices” in chronic disease prevention and management, community support and community care coordination.

  5. Strengthen and supplement Canada's dementia workforce
    We must strengthen Canada’s dementia workforce by:
    • Increasing availability of geriatricians, neurologists, psychiatrists and advanced practice nurses with specialized knowledge of dementia
    • Improving diagnostic and treatment capabilities of all frontline professionals
    • Making best use of general and specialized resources through inter-professional collaboration
    • Supporting patient self-management and caregiver participation in care coordination
    • Leveraging the capabilities of the voluntary sector through investment and training

We must ensure that the escalating numbers of people with dementia are met with an appropriate supply of dementia specialists and well-trained generalists working collaboratively. These scarce resources must be supplemented by a well-resourced voluntary sector, with a nationally available support program as a priority.