The announcement that the federal government is launching a $50 million national dementia strategy – a first for Canada – is music to the ears of a number of health organizations.
Dr. Patrice Lindsay, Director of Systems Change at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, told 680 CJOB that the national strategy has been long-awaited.
“It’s a huge step forward,” said Lindsay. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time, and really applaud the government for this.
“The strong message about prevention, recognizing the need for more research, but more importantly, they’ve recognized the impact on families and really want to raise the quality of life.
“If we can address those issues, we can really move the needle forward.”
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, more than 500,000 Canadians are living with dementia, with that number expected to double in 15 years.
Lindsay said many of the everyday preventative strategies Canadians are familiar with to stave off heart disease and stroke are also beneficial to keep dementia at bay.
“Many of the same things you’ve heard about every day – healthy lifestyle, exercise… those kinds of things, believe it or not, actually reduce heart disease, stroke and dementia, all at the same time.
“People don’t understand that and we really need to get that message out there.”
The way a poor lifestyle can affect the heart is, she said, very similar to the way it impacts the brain.
“In our brains, we have very tiny blood vessels that are in the areas where your cognition, your thinking and thought processing are.
“The same kind of disease that you get from poor eating and lack of exercise that clog your arteries, that put you at risk of heart attack or stroke, also block those little tiny arteries and veins that provide nutrients to the areas where you think and feel.”
The national strategy was announced Monday by health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, and will provide the $50 million over a five-year period.
WATCH: Minds in Motion: Helping those with Alzheimer’s and dementia