MPP Natalia Kusendova-Bashta and MPP Laura Smith host second “Destigmatizing Dementia Lunch and Learn” with Leading Dementia Care Experts and Community Partners

NEWS Tuesday, August 15, 2023

On June 5th, MPP Kusendova-Bashta and MPP Smith tabled the Private Members’ Bill “An Act to Enact The Improving Dementia Care in Ontario Act, 2023”

THORNHILL — Destigmatizing Dementia Breakfast Event

There are over 260,000 people in Ontario living with Dementia – with over 17,000 of them in York Region. This is where MPP Natalia Kusendova-Bashta, Mississauga-Centre joined her colleague, MPP Laura Smith, Thornhill, for their second Destigmatizing Dementia Event. On Friday, August 11th, the beautiful QuadReal Discovery Centre in Vaughan, ON hosted this educational breakfast featuring leading Dementia Care experts and community partners.

The Destigmatizing Dementia events bring awareness to Bill 121, “An Act to Enact The Improving Dementia Care in Ontario Act, 2023”, that MPP Natalia Kusendova-Bashta tabled alongside MPP Laura Smith on June 5th. MPP Natalia Kusendova-Bashta said that these events gather all the key players in Alzheimer’s Disease Related Dementias care in Ontario, whether it is care providers, researchers, or pharmaceutical companies. “We want to put them together in one room to learn from each other, and to learn about the dementia space. Who would know for instance, that a stakeholder like Canada’s National Ballet School, engages in dementia research. This field is growing exponentially, we are having increasingly more people being diagnosed with dementia every year.”

The Friday’s breakfast featured some insightful and lively presentations:

Andrea Ubell, Director of Programs and Client Services at the Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario York Region, discussed the nature and impact of dementia, as well as services available for both patients and caregivers. She singled out the attention that those taking care of people with dementia should receive.

Dr. Adriana Shnall and Rosanne Aleong of Baycrest Centre, which is an academic health sciences center providing a continuum of care for older adults, made presentations on how Baycrest is working to reduce the risk of dementia, in potential patients as well as in caregivers. They presented Baycrest’s new initiative Defy Dementia that aims to empower Canadians to become more aware of what they can do to modify their dementia risk. Dr. Aleong demonstrated the headband that captures the details of the brain activity in dementia patients.

Julia Kowaleski of Julia’s Place Music Therapy Centre made a presentation on music therapy and how music is used purposefully to address needs in dementia care. With specific examples, she illustrated the ways that music improves cognitive functions.

Several representatives of Canadian Youth Initiative presented on the impact of their program called “Ping4Alzheimer’s” for seniors living with Alzheimer’s. The initiative’s volunteers, who include young ping-pong athletes, provide seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s with one to two hour sessions of playing table tennis. The senior participants often exhibit improvements in their memory after the sessions.

Laveena Kamboj of Eisai Canada presented on Eisai Canada’s research in neurogenerative disease. She informed us that there are some drugs currently at different stages of trials and approval that could be used to treat dementia earlier.

Gina Cook of Revera Glynnwood presented on the retirement home’s efforts to encourage and maintain social interactions within retirement living, which is integral for the residents living with dementia. She also focused on the effects of COVID-19 on dementia.

Jenna Rose-Freeman of Canada’s National Ballet School presented on the impact of dance for those living with dementia. She introduced the school’s film project Dancer Not Dementia, that captures the extraordinary stories and experiences of dancers living with dementia and their care providers. The film shows the impact of dance through the eyes of residents and staff of Alexis Lodge Dementia Care Residence and Cedarhurst Dementia Care Home, as well as through experts in the health and arts spaces.

Kyle Fitzgerald, Director, Government Relations and Public Policy at Alzheimer Society of Ontario, spoke about the results of the recent research in dementia risk reduction and treatment, and how Ontario can act now to get ready for those treatments.

To sum up the educational event, MPP Natalia Kusendova-Bashta said that Bill 121 encourages Ontario government to put forward a strategy and a framework for dementia care in the province. The educational piece of the tabled legislation is also especially important she said, to ensure that our PSWs, nurses and doctors are trained to provide appropriate dementia care to their patients. “All this is very important so that we can continue to destigmatize dementia in Ontario,” said MPP Kusendova-Bashta.


Learn more about Bill 121, which will be going for its Second Reading at the Ontario legislature on October 4th: