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Alberta’s Dementia Strategy: Brain Health
for Every Age

February 19th, 2018

What would you do today to lessen the chances of developing dementia in the future? Educating Albertans of every age about dementia and brain health is one of the pillars of Alberta Health’s Dementia Strategy. Read more here, in Part 2 of our series. 

Managing risk

When it comes to developing dementia, there are no guarantees, but the risk can be managed.

We know that our likelihood of developing one or more type of dementia increases as we age. We may have other risk factors that we can’t do much about, such as family history of dementia, or developmental disabilities. Fortunately, while having these risk factors does increase our risk, developing dementia is not a certainty.

On the other hand, we now know that other dementia risk factors can be managed; diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, depression, low physical activity, as well as cognitive inactivity and social isolation. Unfortunately, the absence of these risk factors doesn’t guarantee a dementia-free future. It’s all about managing risk.

What would you do?

What would a 25-year-old (or a 40-year-old) do today to lessen the chances of developing dementia tomorrow? Alberta Health intends to find out, and develop public awareness activities to encourage risk reduction and brain health at every age.

Age-friendly initiatives

At the same time, Alberta Health is committed to making the province a friendlier place for its aging population. ‘Communities need to challenge themselves to become more inclusive, welcoming and supportive of individuals living with dementia and their caregivers.’ The Age-Friendly Alberta initiative provides direction and inspiration for communities, workplaces, and individuals.

Dementia-friendly education

Included in the Dementia Strategy and Action Plan report is a commitment to make workforces, particularly in the healthcare and supportive living sectors, more dementia-friendly; to ‘work with stakeholders to develop core competencies in dementia care and embed these into educational programs’. Ideally, the education and training would expand into the broader workforce, to ‘include appropriate ways to interact with individuals living with dementia.’

Remove the stigma

It’s all part of a bigger vision to demystify and remove the stigma of dementia; to allow individuals living with dementia ‘to remain connected and contributing members of society, living full and meaningful lives.’

Financial reckoning for caregivers

The strategy paper recognizes the work and personal sacrifices of unpaid (family) caregivers. Based on a 2008 estimate, the dollar value of their unpaid work, loss of income, and out of pocket expenses is almost equal to the entire cost of direct dementia-related healthcare in the province. Work will begin this year to ‘review public policy options that reduce the negative financial impacts experienced by persons living with dementia and their caregivers.’

Part 1: Alberta Dementia Strategy and Action Plan: The Vision

the Vision

Part 3 in this series will cover the Dementia Strategy commitments around access to timely diagnosis, management, care and supports for Albertans living with dementia.

Photo: Brain illustration (public domain, attribution); inset: Alberta Dementia Strategy cover

(Quotations from the Alberta Dementia Strategy and Action Plan document are presented with 'single quotation marks')

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