Almost one in three Ontario voters have a close family member living with dementia and more than half know someone concerned about their risk of developing dementia. Across party lines, Ontarians are looking to their elected officials to do more to support people living with dementia and their care partners. 

Based on feedback from a panel of 21 dementia care experts including physicians, researchers, sector advocates and individuals personally affected by dementia, the Alzheimer Society of Ontario released its Roadmap Towards a Renewed Ontario Dementia Strategy. The Roadmap contains 56 policy and 21 funding recommendations. 

Need mandatory professional developments for doctors 

These include creating mandatory professional development for physicians regarding neurology, dementia diagnosis, and emotion-focused care; establishing a clear Dementia Pathway for use by healthcare professionals, including a presumptive diagnosis, assessment of suitable pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions, support through clinical and non-clinical services and clear management guidelines. 

Recommendations also include expanding long-term care homes and building long-term care beds by ensuring that the sector has enough capacity and trained staff to provide adequate care for older Ontarians, particularly dementia care and behavioural support. 

"Dementia is an issue that matters in every community across Ontario," said Cathy Barrick, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Ontario. "It affects our family, friends, and neighbours – but is rarely talked about by our leaders. That needs to change this election." 

Number of Ontarians with dementia expected to double in 20 years 

More than 260,000 Ontarians live with dementia today, a number that is expected to double within the next 20 years. Of the 5,200 alternate levels of care beds in Ontario hospitals on a normal day, half are occupied by an older adult living with dementia. At Ontario's long-term care homes, two-thirds of all residents live with dementia. 

"When governments talk about hallway healthcare, long-term care capacity, and staffing shortages, what they're really talking about is a failure to care for people living with dementia," continued Ms. Barrick.  "Dementia lies at the heart of capacity constraints in our hospitals and long-term care homes. We can't compassionately care for the number of people living with dementia today, and aren't prepared to support twice that number within a generation. It's time to start ringing alarm bells."