That's an increase of 27 per cent from the current 9,700.
Dr. Frank Molnar, a top Ontario geriatrician and one of the report’s co-authors, warns these estimates are conservative and will test the future sustainability of Ontario's health-care system.
“We need to act now,” said David Harvey, chief public policy and program initiatives officer, Alzheimer Society of Ontario, who led the report, in a press release.
“We need a provincewide plan, and that means a well-informed, organized and collaborative effort across all levels of health care. Too many people with dementia are not getting diagnosed early enough or receiving enough care or the care they need."
Ontario's health-care system will come under even greater pressure as caregiver needs intensify, the press release said.
Today, informal caregivers provide 100 million unpaid hours annually looking after family members or friends with dementia. This number will exceed 140 million hours per year by 2020. Their task also puts them at a higher risk for stress and otherhealth-related issues.
A recent Canadian survey reported 35 per cent of caregivers experienced a decline in their health, while 71 per cent reported disruptions to their employment.
The Alzheimer Society report further highlights the complex task of caring for people with dementia who have other chronic illnesses. More than 90 per cent of
Ontario seniors with dementia are living with two or more coexisting chronic medical conditions.
"Many Ontarians with dementia also have heart disease, stroke and diabetes,” Harvey said.
“This causes a domino effect on the individual because dementia will destabilize these other chronic conditions. Finding the right care is a huge challenge and creates a financial burden for these individuals and their families.”
Unless Ontario’s health-care system adapts to the soaring prevalence of dementia, alternate level of care (ALC) days will also increase, the press release said.
The number of ALC days is projected to jump to 550 by 2016, up from 423 days today.
ALC days occur when those with dementia are forced to remain in the hospital, though no longer needing acute care, as they wait to be transferred to more appropriate care settings.
"We're seeing a greater demand for services in our community now and we need to make sure supports and services are in place for the future," said Lorraine LeBlanc, executive director, Société Alzheimer Society Sudbury-Manitoulin.
"Access to better choice and quality of care can keep people with dementia at home and more independent for longer. That's a far less costly option. We need to work collaboratively towards a national, provincial and municipal dementia care strategy that assures effective utilization of our workforce, policies that give a voice to the person with a diagnosis and their care partner."