Dementia is an increasing health issue in Canada. As our largest segment of the population, the baby boomers continue to age over the next few decades; this health issue will continue to magnify. Family members are the first line of support to dementia patients. Caring for a person that is mentally or physically impaired can be exhausting and stressful for a family member. Many of the family caregivers also have growing families to care for and/or a career. Family caregivers of dementia patients need help!
So, what exactly is dementia?
The Alzheimer's Society has defined dementia as an overall term for a set of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. If the symptoms are severe enough that they restrict the person’s ability to perform everyday activities, then the person is suffering from dementia. The symptoms include mood and/or behavioral changes; memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem solving abilities or language. The symptoms will gradually get worse as more brain cells become damaged and die. Dementia is progressive.
Dementia is not a disease in itself; dementia is caused by other diseases. The most common diseases that cause dementia are Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia (due to strokes). “Some of the other causes of dementia include Lewy Body disease, head trauma, fronto-temporal dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. These conditions can have similar and overlapping symptoms.”
Canadian Statistics on Dementia
The first wave of the baby boomers turned 65 in 2011.
- “Almost 15% (14.9) of Canadians age 65 or older were living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias – that’s 747,000 Canadians and those stats are 4 years old so the number is actually higher"
- "One in five Canadians aged 45 and older provides some form of care to seniors living with long-term health problems."
- "25% of all family caregivers are seniors themselves; a third of them (more than 200,000) are older than 75."
- "Between 2 % and 10% of all cases of dementia start before the age of 65.4."
- "The risk for dementia doubles every five years after age 65.”
Caregiving is a critical issue for people living with dementia
Family caregivers need a break from caring for their family member with dementia. This is why Health Care Aide (HCA) personnel are increasingly in demand and will continue to be so for the next few decades. Providing even a few hours of care a day to a dementia patient will help the family caregiver maintain some of her/his normal activities. Thus, supplying them with the break they need to function normally while providing care for a loved family member.
If you are a caring person that enjoys working with people, the Health Care Aide program may be the start of a rewarding career for you! Visit ABM College to discuss the details of obtaining your Alberta HCA Certification.