University of Saskatchewan researcher aims to improve dementia care

As many as 50 per cent of Canadians with dementia are not diagnosed early enough, losing valuable time when intervention can help these people with managing their daily lives, the Alzheimer Society of Canada is warning in a new campaign.
A researcher at the University of Saskatchewan is looking at ways to improve dementia care in rural and remote communities. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File

A researcher at the University of Saskatchewan is looking at ways dementia care can be improved in rural and remote communities.

“Rural regions have fewer resources, (but) they have proportionally more older people – and age is the main risk factor for dementia,” said Debra Morgan, who is professor and chair of rural health care delivery at the Canadian Centre of Health and Safety in Agriculture.

“But there are fewer supports in rural and remote communities, specialists are not easily accessible, and physicians have less access to education to help them diagnose and manage.”

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Morgan has been given $2.3 million in funding over the next seven years from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research towards creating, implementing and evaluating best practices for delivering comprehensive care for people with dementia in rural locations.

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“Rural healthcare providers face a lot of challenges in diagnosing dementia,” Debra Morgan said.

“We’re trying to find out how to provide them with education and decision support tools they need to increase their capacity to diagnose and manage dementia, and find ways to provide remote support from specialists at a distance.”

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The funding will be used to develop a Rural Dementia Action Research (RaDAR) toolkit to give healthcare providers practices which can be tailored to different rural settings.

The goal is to enhance the quality of life for dementia patients and their families while at the same time easing the burden on the health care system.

“The lack of services, and that the services that are available are limited in quantity and appropriateness, are multiple reasons why we need this research,” Morgan stated.

A number of experts, both from across Canada and internationally, will aid with the research.

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It is estimated that 47 million people around the world live with dementia.


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