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 specifically known. But research points to possible risk factors, such as:

  • unhealthy diet
  • physical inactivity
  • severe brain injury
  • environmental influences, such as:
    • not enough vitamin D
    • exposure to pesticides
  • sex (females are more at risk than males)
  • genetic factors, such as an inherited risk of Alzheimer's disease

More research is needed to learn about the causes of dementia and the most effective ways to prevent, identify and treat it.

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. Spreading awareness about the disease through Dementia Friends Canada can help improve how people with dementia are treated by others.

Dementia Friends Canada

Dementia Friends Canada is a program funded by the federal government and run by the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

This program helps Canadians understand:

  • what it means to live with dementia
  • how to better support those affected within the community

Dementia Friends Canada improves awareness and understanding by reaching out to Canadians where they live and work. It informs people through:

  • a website
  • social media

By engaging Canadians, we can help reduce the negative associations attached to the disease.

A Dementia Friend:

  • has committed to helping people who are living with the disease
  • uses their knowledge about dementia to support those who are living with the disease in their community

Every action counts, even the smallest one. It can be as simple as being more patient. Register to become a Dementia Friend today.

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 in the Canadian population. A neurological condition affects the brain, spinal cord or nerves. 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

The first annual reporting has begun in 2017.

Information about programs and services on dementia in my area

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