Alzheimer patients deserve provincial plan, says advocate

A health epidemic is coming, and Jim Mann is determined to do something about it.

A health epidemic is coming, and Jim Mann is determined to do something about it.

As a board member with the B.C. Alzheimer Society, Mann said there will be 177,000 people living with dementia in the province by 2038.

“We need a comprehensive, funded dementia action plan to avert this crisis and to prepare B.C. for the rising tide of dementia,” Mann said before addressing a crowd of about 50 people at Monterey Recreation Centre in Oak Bay.

Mann, 63, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 58, is touring the province to promote a five-point action plan in the run-up to the provincial election.

The province’s current dementia plan expires in 2014, and has shown success, particularly with its First Link diagnosis and referral program, Mann said.

The society proposes providing financial incentives for family caregivers, expanded home support programs and policies to promote early diagnosis.

Family caregivers provide an estimated 118 million unpaid hours of care every year to people with dementia and other health problems.

A status quo approach to dementia in B.C. will lead to a projected economic burden of more than $130 billion within 30 years, Mann said.

“Dementia care is different than other types of care,” he said, having watched his mother go through the ordeal.

Another misconception is that Alzheimer is a disease affecting only the elderly.

“I was 58,” he said. “If you’re still at a working age and you lose two family incomes, that’s devastating.”

To learn more, visit alzheimerbc.org or call 1-800-667-3742.