We must do more to protect people with dementia: André Picard
2020-08-04 from theglobeandmail.com
No group has been harder hit by the coronavirus pandemic than people living with dementia.
They account for a staggering two-thirds of the nearly 9,000 COVID-19 deaths in Canada. (Here’s the math: Eighty per cent of COVID-19 deaths occurred in long-term care and 80 per cent of long-term care residents have dementia.)
As we reflect on this horrific mortality rate, we owe it to our elders to not accept the heartless and all-too-common “they were going to die anyhow” shrug of indifference.
There is no excuse – medical, political or social – for our failure to do a better job protecting the most vulnerable among us.
The lives of people with dementia have as much value as anyone else.
For that reason, we need to look beyond the immediate debacle that has unfolded in congregate care settings and ask ourselves a couple of fundamental questions:
- Why are so many people with dementia – more than 300,000 in Canada – in institutional care?
- Why do so many seniors develop dementia in the first place?
There are 6.6 million Canadians older than 65, the age at which we arbitrarily decide someone is old. An estimated 564,000 of the “golden agers” are living with Alzheimer disease and other forms of dementia (of which there are dozens), and that number is growing by 25,000 a year, according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.
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