It’s by no means inevitable that a person, as he or she ages, will get some form of dementia. But given a society made up of folks living longer, and seniors making up a larger portion of the population, the odds are there for a larger segment affected by the disease.
That looming challenge is no secret of course, and the province, working with the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia, is putting together an advisory committee to work toward a plan to care for people with dementia.
Committee members will be named soon, Health Minister Leo Glavine said this week. It will include people with dementia, service providers and geriatric health care professionals.
The committee will determine recommendations for the province, with a goal of having a plan assembled by next year.
This group of people will have its work cut out for it. Most of us will be familiar with someone, a relative perhaps, affected by the condition. January, in fact, marked Alzheimer Awareness Month – Alzheimer’s being the most common form of dementia – and with it came information from health organizations to help people understand the condition.
While there’s no cure, and researchers can’t identify a single cause, they do offer people advice to live a healthy lifestyle in regard to diet and exercise and to keep the brain active. Doing puzzles is often mentioned as a possible factor in slowing development of the disease, as is staying involved in social activities.
Nova Scotia, it should be noted, is a province with the oldest population per capita. Stack that statistic alongside the forecast that more than 700,000 now have dementia, and the number is expected to double in the next two decades.
Again, this committee faces a daunting challenge. In addition to the logistics that will be needed to provide care, we can’t forget that, as it is, governments struggle to balance budgets. What to do when there’s even greater strain on health care will be a burning question.