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Burntwood Regional Health Authority
10 Million Aging Baby Boomers Heading Straight Into Alzheimer Years
Date : - 14/12/2007
One night, my mother wandered. I had no idea. I was sound asleep. When I woke up and found her, she was fully dressed. Her shoes were soaking wet. It had rained the day before, so I realized she had been out. That was the turning point. That's when I knew I could no longer care for my mother at home. It was beyond my control.

Helen Henderson's experience with her mother, Lillian, is familiar to hundreds of thousands of Alzheimer caregivers across Canada. It could become even more widespread, over the next 30 years, as Canada's 10 million baby boomers turn 65 and head straight into the age of highest risk for Alzheimer's disease.

Today, 300,000 Canadians, or one in 13 people over 65, have Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. More than double that number, or three-quarters of a million Canadians, will be affected by 2031.

"Canada could be facing an Alzheimer's disease crisis in this millennium," says Steve Rudin, Executive Director of the Alzheimer Society of Canada, "and we have to act now to prevent it."

"Home care is a major issue," says Barbara Mulrooney, a Halifax caregiver who has cared for her husband, Edward, 61, at home, for almost nine years while working.

Caregivers like Mulrooney are eager for any help they can get -- day programs, respite, overnight and weekend care. They are also seeking home care hours that mesh with their work schedules and increase with the disease's severity -- and workers trained to care for people with dementia.

The Alzheimer Society's Rudin says, "A national home care system with national standards for home care set by the federal government could effectively address many of these caregiver concerns and help to reduce caregiver stress."

Research, too, needs a boost. "With vast numbers of people likely to get this disease, it's even more urgent for us to find a cause and cure for Alzheimer's disease and develop better methods for diagnosis, caregiving, and providing the needed services specific to people with this disease."

A leading funder of Alzheimer research in Canada, the Society commits over $1 million yearly. Still, "more research dollars are needed," says Rudin, "to fight this disease that's costing Canadians over $3.9 billion a year."

The Alzheimer Society welcomes research donations from caring Canadians and encourages the federal government to make Alzheimer research a higher priority.

The Society also provides support groups, counselling, information, services and programs such as the national Alzheimer Wandering Registry that helps people return home after wandering. These Alzheimer Society programs and services are also funded by donations from Canadians.

For more information about Alzheimer's disease, its impact and how you can help, contact your local Alzheimer Society.
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