The Globe and Mail prints a major cover story in their Saturday newspaper talking about the crisis situation China is facing with an aging population and the increasing number of people diagnosed with Dementia. The following is an excerpt from the story:
“Dementia in China presents one of Earth’s largest and costliest public-health crises, a slow-moving calamity of human suffering that also portends economic and political danger.
As the fuel for China’s industrial engines – cheap labour, hungry consumers, a burgeoning cohort of middle-class workers – slowly dwindles, so too does its ability to propel the global economy. Meanwhile, the cost to the nation of caring for the most vulnerable among the elderly will be staggering. In little more than a decade, some scholars predict, demographics will help drag China’s economic growth rate below that of the U.S.
The fast-growing ranks of the elderly are already creating difficult and growing social problems.
This spring, Chinese President Xi Jinping acknowledged “significant deficiencies” that have left the majority of seniors unhappy with their lives in modern-day China. Loneliness is rampant among generations left behind in countrysides emptied of younger people, leading to an epidemic of old-age suicides. He called for the country “to make great efforts” to improve health care and social benefits for its elderly.”
With British Columbia also dealing with a rapidly aging population, no doubt there will be questions asked in the upcoming election regarding how well prepared we are to support those living with Dementia. The BCCPA plans to release early in 2017 a set of key recommendations to improve seniors care. The recommendations are the result of a five-month consultation process which took place earlier this year and culminated with the BC Continuing Care Collaborative which took place as the Wosk Centre for Dialogue in Vancouver.
The Globe and Mail refers to the aging population as a “tidal wave” about to hit China:
Dementia “will consume a huge amount of resources – and they haven’t even done research on how we are going to provide services for all these people,” says Dr. Michael Phillips, a psychiatrist at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine.
“But it’s a tidal wave that’s coming.”
For now, though, the families already caught up in the waters can do little but hope the disease doesn’t ravage their own lives, too.