Libby speaks out in support of a National Dementia Strategy

Cover Date: 
November 24, 2011

NOVEMBER 24, 2011

Canada must act now to avoid catastrophe for a million Canadians and their families

OTTAWA – Nickel Belt MP Claude Gravelle introduced legislation today for a national dementia strategy, invoking the memory of his mother and over 500,000 Canadians already ravaged by Alzheimer’s and other related dementia diseases.

Gravelle profiled his mother Leona’s story, painfully familiar to Canadians facing dementia. “Long before her death at 83 in 2003, she first started forgetting appointments and things on the stove. It deteriorated to forgetting to take medication, to language loss, and changes in mood and behaviour. We were helpless watching a mild-mannered woman at times turn aggressive and seeing part of her true self slip away. My dad also suffered, learning to sleep with one eye open.”

Gravelle was joined by NDP Health critic Libby Davies (Vancouver East), NDP Seniors critic Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe) and Alzheimer advocates.

“Existing federal programs, research funding, support and income assistance pale in comparison to the enormous and rapidly escalating health, economic and social impacts of this devastating disease,” said Debbie Benczkowski, interim CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Canada. “On behalf of Canadians with dementia and their families, we urge all parties to work together to pass Mr. Gravelle’s bill.””

“The Conservative government needs to take immediate action and provide comprehensive long-term and community care options to support those living with chronic illness,” added Davies. “A National Dementia Strategy is desperately needed, and should be a cornerstone in guiding the implementation of long-term and community care programs.”

“With a rapidly expanding seniors population, 9.8 million Canadian seniors by 2036”, investments for programs and research into seniors’ health and well being must being now,” said Mathyssen.” Inaction is not an option. The federal government can and must take the lead.”

According to the Alzheimer Society’s landmark report Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society, released in 2010, without government action dementia costs to the Canadian economy will increase tenfold – from $15 billion a year to $153 billion a year – over the next 30 years.

“Alzheimer’s is not part of normal aging,” Gravelle said. “Together, let’s champion a national dementia strategy.”