Dementia

Learn about dementia and how Canada is helping those who live with the disease.

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Defining dementia

Dementia is a loss of mental function that affects daily activities. It is caused by a loss of cells in the brain and the breakdown of important nerve connections. This process is known as neurodegeneration.

Symptoms can include:

  • memory loss
  • behaviour changes
  • judgement and reasoning problems
  • changes in mood and communication abilities

Early diagnosis is important, so visit the Alzheimer Society of Canada to learn about the warning signs.

The risk factors for dementia

The causes of dementia are not all specifically known. But research points to possible modifiable risk factors, such as those presented in the World Health Organization's Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017 - 2025:

  • lack of physical activity;
  • obesity;
  • unhealthy diet;
  • tobacco use;
  • harmful use of alcohol;
  • social isolation;
  • lack of cognitively stimulating activities;
  • diabetes, hypertension, and depression.

How we are helping Canadians with dementia

Canada is focused on improving diagnosis and treating Canadians who live with dementia. We understand the importance of dementia research and prevention. Research will help us give more accurate information to the families and caregivers of people with dementia.

Dementia affects Canada's aging population and health care systems in this country and around the world. We support efforts to prevent, delay or slow the progress of dementia. Impacts may be reduced:

We also want to help Canadians with dementia overcome the difficulties of living with the disease.

Research and funding

Data show that more than 402,000 Canadians (65 years and older) are living with dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. However, with a growing and aging population, this number is expected to increase. Canada has invested over $193 million on dementia-related research over the last 5 years through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. More than 350 Canadian researchers are involved in dementia research through the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging.

Canada is working with the provinces and territories to conduct ongoing surveillance of some neurological conditions (conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord or nerves) in the Canadian population. This work includes analysis and reporting on the number of:

  • existing cases of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease
  • newly diagnosed cased of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease

The first annual reporting has begun in 2017.

Information about programs and services on dementia in my area

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