FREDERICTON (GNB) – Consultations have begun toward developing a dementia strategy and action plan to support New Brunswickers living with the disease.

“High-quality health care is the priority of our government,” said Health Minister Ted Flemming. “We want to ensure that people in the province have an opportunity to provide their insight on what the future looks like for those living with dementia, whether they have a personal connection to the disease or not.”

Records from the health-care system indicate that Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias affect more than 9,000 people, or about 5.5 per cent of the province’s senior population. However, since many cases are undiagnosed or unreported, the actual number of people affected could range from 12,000 to 14,000.

The number of seniors with dementia is expected to double by the year 2038 according to Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick, Canada, Rising Tide (2009): The Impact of Dementia in New Brunswick 2008 to 2038.

“For individuals and families living with dementia, the experience can be challenging,” said Flemming. “The more we learn about this disease, the better prepared we are to deal with it. Each person has a unique journey and experience to share. Many of us have been touched by dementia, whether it is a family member, a friend, a colleague or neighbour.”

The Department of Health is working on the development of this action plan in co-operation with the Department of Social Development, Horizon Health Network, Vitalité Health Network, the Extra-Mural Program and Ambulance New Brunswick. It was a recommendation of the New Brunswick Aging Strategy, which was released in January 2017.

Ideas and feedback may be submitted through the Citizen Engagement and Consultation website or by voicemail at 1-833-224-8671. Submissions will be accepted until April 16