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

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What is dementia?

Dementia is the loss of mental functions. It is a disease caused by the loss of cells in the brain and the breakdown of important nerve connections. This 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.

What are 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.

What is Canada doing to help people 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 or slow the progress of dementia. Risks 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 they are treated by others.

What is Dementia Friends Canada?

Dementia Friends Canada is a program funded by the federal government and run with the Alzheimer Society of Canada. It is based on similar programs in Japan and the United Kingdom.

This program will help Canadians understand:

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

Dementia Friends Canada seeks to improve awareness and understanding by reaching out to Canadians where they live and work. We will inform 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

The number of Canadians aged 40 and older living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is expected to increase. This increase will be from about 395,000 in 2016 to 674,000 in 2031.

Canada has invested over $297 million on dementia-related research over the last 10 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 establish ongoing surveillance of some neurological conditions in the Canadian population. A neurological condition affects the brain, spinal cord or nerves. This work will include analysis and reporting on the number of:

  • existing cases of dementia
  • newly diagnosed cases of dementia

Annual reporting is expected to begin between 2017 and 2018.

Where can I find information about programs and services on dementia in my area?

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