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Response Regarding Provincial Dementia Strategy

Dear Mr. Rudachyk,

Dementia is a very important issue for me and for my community. The next provincial government needs to act immediately on this issue.

We need to ensure that it is possible for people to live well with dementia and that our families, friends and neighbours affected by dementia don’t get left behind. It’s time that Saskatchewan implements a dementia strategy that addresses the needs of people living with dementia and their care partners.

We need a made in Saskatchewan solution that involves people living with dementia, caregivers and the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan as key partners. A provincial dementia strategy needs to be a health care priority and should address these three key issues:

1. Improve timely diagnosis and connection to post-diagnostic support. Access to a diagnosis that is communicated in a compassionate manner as early as possible and includes immediate connections to supports and services makes a difference for people living with dementia and those that support them.

2. Improve supports to stay safely at home as long as possible. Addressing home care, respite and education for people living with dementia and family caregivers ensures they have information to better understand dementia and what to expect so they can plan for the future.

3. Improve acute care, long-term care and end-of-life care. All Saskatchewan people deserve to feel welcomed and to be well-cared for when hospitalization or admission to long-term care is necessary.

Dementia is important to me and my community, and I know what I want to see in a provincial dementia strategy. What I want to know is, what are you and your party prepared to do to show it’s important to you, too? Will you and your party make a provincial dementia strategy a reality in Saskatchewan?

Dear Jim,

I am in agreement with you. I feel that this is an important factor in the overall mental health strategy we need. The current government is ignoring this in a way I find unacceptable. With our aging boomer population, we are particularly vulnerable on this issue. It is further complicated by the fact that more and more young people are leaving the province due to low wages and a lack of opportunities.

I should also clarify that on this issue, I have had some personal experiences. In my youth, I worked a security position in Vancouver where I had to guard an Alzheimer’s patient whose dementia was getting worse and he was lashing out violently at staff and other patients when he was triggered. My job was to protect the staff and patients from his outbursts and protect him from himself until a bed in a more secure facility was available. And yes, there were times that I sustained injuries by putting myself between him and those he would lash out against. The several weeks that I was posted to him had a very profound impact on my thoughts on this issue and gave me a bit more of an understanding of this very complex issue than most. Personally, I believe that all politicians should have to deal with situations like this before deciding policy.

I would like to invite you and others to help us draw a workable policy. Working together, we can help improve long term care for those afflicted by this terrible illness and help ease the suffering of the families that are forced to watch their loved ones endure it.

Robert Rudachyk
Interim Saskatchewan Liberal Leader

Note: The original letter and response have been edited for clarity and length, and the writer’s actual name has been changed to maintain their personal privacy.