Dementia strategy a must as population ages in Windsor-Essex, advocates say

Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term care is in Windsor to host a town hall to discuss a dementia strategy.

'It's important we have a strategy because of the demographics'

Sally Bennett Olczak, executive director of Alzheimer Society of Windsor and Essex County

Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-term care has been holding town halls across the province to update its' dementia strategy, last night it was Windsor's turn to host the meeting.

In 1999 the province created a strategy, making it the first province in Canada to do so, but it is now being revamped.

"It's very important," said Sally Bennett Olczak, executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Windsor Essex. "It's important that we have a strategy because of the demographics."

It's anticipated that the number of people with dementia across Canada will double in the next generation.

Right now there are an estimated 7,300 people with dementia in Windsor Essex, and 228,000 people in Ontario currently living with dementia. 

There are, however, some gaps in service that need to be addressed, Bennett Olczak said.

"What we find, more often is people's adult children live away from the community they were born and raised in, they've moved away from Windsor-Essex," she said.

While support can be brought in from community agencies such as the Alzheimer's Society, that only provides limited hours of care a week.

"We find that our caregivers are extremely fatigued," Bennett Olczak said.

Ontario is attempting to improve support systems by hosting a town hall in Windsor. More than 100 people turned out to contribute to the process that is looking at six main areas, according to the Ministry's outline.

  • Providing supports to help people with dementia live well
  • Ensuring access to the right information and services at the right time
  • Coordinating care between health care and other service providers
  • Supporting care partners with their caregiving responsibilities
  • Having a well-trained workforce to provide dementia care
  • Raising awareness and reducing stigma about brain health and dementia.

The strategy is expected to take several more months to conclude.

More than 100 people came to the Alzheimer Society of Windsor Essex to provide input for a dementia strategy for Ontario.