Supporting the health and well-being of seniors is a top priority for the Government of Canada, particularly for those who are most vulnerable. Dementia has a significant and growing impact in Canada-more than 432,000 Canadians aged 65 and older have been diagnosed with dementia. Others remain undiagnosed, possibly due to stigma or other barriers.
Today, the Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors, announced an investment of $3 million in funding through the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) for a project led by the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA). The project will create intergenerational partnerships for seniors living with mild to moderate dementia and their caregivers in communities across the Waterloo region.
The NHSP is a federal grants and contributions program whose goal is to support projects that help improve the well-being and quality of life of seniors, and foster social inclusion and engagement of Canadian seniors in their communities. Budget 2019 invested an additional $100 million over five years in the NHSP.
In collaboration with its partners, the RIA will bridge the gaps between research, education and practice by fostering interactions between students, educators and community members. The project will establish meaningful roles for older adults in their community by providing more connections with young people, identifying possible community programs that seniors with mild to moderate dementia can take part in and educating students to increase their knowledge and awareness of dementia.
The RIA is one of the successful applicants resulting from a call for concepts launched in December 2018 through the NHSP pan-Canadian funding stream, which supports organizations that develop collaborative and innovative approaches to increase the social inclusion of seniors. Up to $60 million in funding over five years will be invested in these projects, which began in fall 2019.
“The Government of Canada is empowering vulnerable seniors by investing in opportunities where they can benefit from and contribute to their communities. This project will help improve the lives of older people living with dementia, their families and caregivers. It will increase seniors’ social inclusion and well-being, and make a meaningful impact in the community.”
– The Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors
“About nine seniors are diagnosed with dementia every hour in Canada, and there is currently no cure. Projects like this help build a country where people living with dementia and caregivers are valued and supported. We’re proud to work with the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging to improve quality of life of seniors in Waterloo and strengthen our community.”
-The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and Member of Parliament for Waterloo
“This project gives us the opportunity to not only bring our resources for people living with dementia to the community, but to also help foster partnerships and innovation across generations. I look forward to seeing how Waterloo Region becomes better able to support our older adults through this work.”
– Josie d’Avernas, Executive Director, Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging
In Waterloo, more than 10,000 people over the age of 65 are living with dementia. By 2020, that number is expected to increase by 34% to more than 13,500 people.
To date, the New Horizons for Seniors Program pan-Canadian projects have engaged and connected more than 47,000 seniors to supports and services in their communities to reduce social isolation. As well, more than 5,600 professionals and volunteers have been trained to identify, support and respond to the needs of seniors
Seniors are the fastest-growing demographic group in Canada. By 2037, the number of seniors will reach 9.6 million, representing close to one quarter of Canada’s population.
Last summer the federal government launched Canada’s first National Dementia Strategy, backed by a $50-million investment. This strategy will enhance the quality of life of seniors living with dementia, and ensure that their caregivers-who are predominantly women-have access to the resources they need, including mental health supports. The federal government also invested a further $20 million to assist community organizations supporting seniors living with dementia, and $31.6 million in research.