Thursday, 24 January 2013
Dementia – a public health problem not to be forgotten
The WHO has done a global service with the publication of a Dementia - A Public Health Priority. It is a 100 odd page document, filled with the latest and greatest related to epidemiology, social challenges, caregiving issues and public awareness. Such a tome is a really solid foundation for finally internalizing into the public health arena the issues of abnormal ageing.
While the document is global in scope, and those numbers can be staggering and hard to put individual countries into perspective, it lays out some solid philosophical approaches to what can consistently be done to grapple with the using of abnormal ageing. That some 6-8% of persons over the age of 60 right across most of the earth suffer from dementia is notable. Lower rates are only noted in sub-Saharan Africa.
Canada lacks a definitive approach to dementia. Scant background information can be obtained at the Alzheimer’s Society http://canadadementiacrisis.ca/ . This greatly exceeds the amount readily accessible from PHAC. There are sections on dementia from the 2010 PHO report Chapter 3 on seniors and the Women’s Health report Women's Health report . The lack of attention speaks loudly to how this illness that in some way or another has affected most Canadians, is just not on the radar as a public health issue.
Seems we have taken the policy approach of warehousing those with dementia, and the forgetting about them. Some simple steps on awareness are worthwhile, and the WHO report dedicates a full chapter to the issue of public awareness as a major step.