What is dementia?Dementia develops insidiously and erases what is most precious to all of us - our memories, talents, identities, and our ability to communicate.
Dementia is a syndrome consisting of a number of symptoms that include: a gradual onset and continuing decline of memory, changes in judgement and reasoning; changes in mood and behaviour; and, the inability to perform familiar tasks.
There are about 100 diseases associated with the symptoms of dementia. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and accounts for 64 per cent of all dementia cases in Canada. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative and terminal disease of the brain, which causes thinking and memory to become seriously impaired.
Dementia affects everyone differently and progresses at different speeds for each person. The average number of years between early symptoms and complex dementia is eight to 12, but for some people it is anywhere between three and 20 years.
According to the Alzheimer's Society Rising Tide Report, one in five baby boomers will develop dementia by 2038.
Sources: Veteran's Affairs Mental Health Fact Sheet, Dementia Care Foundation and Alzheimer's Society of Canada.
The Harsh Reality - Dementia is on the Rise on Vancouver Island
Ten years from now, one in three people over the age of 85, or more than 3,300 individuals in Central Vancouver Island, will be afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, plus an additional 1,880 with other forms of dementia. Add to that an additional 5,000 for the number of people who will develop dementia in their 60s and 70s.
Currently, for all of Vancouver Island there are only 700 long-term beds set aside for people with various stages of dementia. There is a huge gap between the facilities available and current and future needs on the Island.