Dementia, Boomers and Education
By: Bruce Wray, Communications Manager
Every day it happens. Most times we don’t notice it but at some point, it hits us. We reach that point in life where we self-define as being “old”. Truth be told, those younger than us had put us in that category much earlier than we did. But no matter where you fall in the generational categories of demographers, be it the Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers, Millennials and Gen Z’ers, aging is inevitable. And since you’re reading this article (or at least, got this far) my assumption is that you fall into the first (and one of the largest) categories, the Boomers.
As a Boomer you and I have had a lot of influence on how our world has transformed; culturally, politically and economically. When you stop and think about it, our Boomer fingerprints are on a lot of the furniture – our influence has literally impacted everyone’s life. That’s one of the reasons why, over the last few years, you’ve been hearing, seeing and reading a lot about aging and one of the biggest epidemics we are facing in the 21st century – dementia. And yes, as the prevalence of dementia has grown, it fits into the classification of epidemic. Thankfully our influence and our sheer numbers have and will continue to drive government policy, health research, public attitudes and program and service expansion towards the challenge of dementia. The relatively new focus upon aging and dementia has been slow in coming. It’s been a realization not unlike that of your own aging process as in, “How did we get here so fast and what the heck happened?” It does seem sudden and unexpected. Except, it isn’t and it wasn’t.
At the Alzheimer Society, we’ve seen the impact of the Boomer demographic first hand. Over the past five years, our active client list has grown from 1200 to 2600 people – close to a
130% growth rate. Thankfully over that time period, our staffing level and our delivery of programs and services has increased as we strive to meet that expansion.
One such area is in the public education realm. The expertise and knowledge we share through our various education delivery platforms is ultimately designed to help people living with dementia – and here, I’m referring to both the person diagnosed and their care partners and family – to live as well as possible with dementia. Until there is an effective treatment and/or cure for these neurodegenerative diseases, enhancing quality of life is the goal.
Our annual Navigating the Road Ahead conference is one of those tools in our educational toolkit. Designed for healthcare professionals, clients and those in the general public interested in cognitive impairment, the conference offers resources, strategies and training. This year’s Navigating the Road Ahead conference is Tuesday, November 20. With the theme, Innovations In Dementia Care, the day-long conference features presentations on ‘personhood tools’ for people with advanced dementia where their history, their personality and their likes and dislikes are used to deliver a better quality of care. An afternoon session illustrates how problem-solving therapy can build improved resilience for caregivers and for seniors in general. Two panel discussions are planned with the morning ‘Faces of Caregiving’ panel sharing perspectives of caregiving from varied viewpoints and experiences. The afternoon panel called ‘Innovations in Community Care’ highlights new ideas in program and service delivery from dementia care experts. Threaded throughout the day will be the five video finalists of our ‘Moments of Innovation’ contest where we called on the community to submit short videos to highlight their creative approach to dementia care.
Registration is still open for Navigating The Road Ahead: Innovations in Dementia Care. Visit our website for more information and to register online: www.alzheimerlondon.ca/ntra.