Improving Dementia Care Among Family Physicians: From Stigma to Evidence-Informed Knowledge
Dementia is a national public health issue and a growing concern across Canada. Recently, the Government of Canada released a national dementia strategy focused on the need to prevent dementia, advance therapies, find a cure, and improve the quality of life for people with dementia. Family physicians are a primary source of care in discussing concerns of cognitive health and dementia, especially in rural and remote communities in Canada. However, research indicates that family physicians often lack knowledge and feel ill-equipped in providing care to older adults with dementia. Inadequate knowledge and education of dementia contributes to the stigmatization (stereotypes, labeling, discriminatory practices) of people with dementia and creates barriers to diagnosis and treatment. Moreover, studies show that there is dementia-related stigma among family physicians. We believe that there is a critical gap and urgent need for better dementia education and training among family physicians to improve dementia care, treatment and timely diagnosis. Thus, it is time to rethink our approach to dementia care in Canada, and to recognize that better care of older adults requires more evidence-informed research, education and interprofessional collaboration in order to reduce stigma and improve the quality of care for people with dementia.