Louise and Michael will soon be traveling England for a month - a trip made possible by the United Kingdom’s robust support network for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Such a network, Louise argues, does not exist in Canada.
“When Michael was diagnosed through one of the major diagnostic departments in Quebec – the Jewish General Hospital’s Memory Clinic – they essentially said, ‘He has dementia. Come back in 6 months. Good luck.’ I don’t think they even said ‘Good luck’. Just ‘Next’,” Louise explains.
It’s up to Canadians to stand up for safe, dignified, and kind care for those living with dementia.
Within a generation, the number of Canadians living with Alzheimer’s or dementia will more than double. The cost of dementia care, according the Alzheimer’s Society’s Rising Tide report, will skyrocket to an estimated $153 billion. Our health care system not only lacks institutional support for those living with dementia and their caregivers, but it is ill equipped to deal with the immense challenges that lay ahead.
It’s up to Canadians, Louise believes, to stand up for safe, dignified, and kind care for those living with dementia.
“I’m so appalled at the lack of support from the government,” she says. “People need to be kept safe, but they also need to be in environments where they are respected and not treated as trash one step before the garbage. That takes training, along with a social effort to value them, so people know they are valued,” she says. People need to speak up,”
Following his diagnosis, Michael and Louise decided to share their story with the public. Overcoming the stigma of Alzheimer’s and dementia, Louise believes, is the first step towards better care. As a spokesperson for the Alzheimer’s Society for Quebec, Louise is encouraging those living with dementia and their caregivers to emerge from the shadows, and to take a public stand for better care.
“God knows it was difficult,” she says, “to open the doors and windows and curtains and say ‘Yeah, it’s not pretty all the time. It’s not comfortable all the time, and we wish it were different. But this is what it looks like and we’re not ashamed.’”