“Dementia is not an illness or disease in itself, but is a broad term which is used to describe a range of signs and symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by certain diseases and conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.”
January is Alzheimer Awareness Month. According to the Government of Canada, 6-15% of Canadians age 65 and older are living with some form of dementia. These numbers are expected to double by 2031.
The most common forms of dementia are:
- Alzheimer disease
- Vascular dementia
- Lewy Body dementia
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Early onset dementia
A family doctor is the first step to a diagnosis. A team of health care professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, geriatricians, nurses, social workers and/or occupational therapists may be called upon to make a final diagnosis. Since several conditions can be the cause of dementia it is important to remember that symptoms can vary.
Support and Resources:
Many agencies and organizations offer programs and services for individuals with dementia. Listed below is a sample of resources:
- Alzheimer Society of Canada is the umbrella organization of local agencies that provide services, education and resources for individuals with dementia and their care partners. For community-specific information look for the society with the name of your region in it. For example, Alzheimer Society of Peel (region).
- The Alzheimer’s Association is the American equivalent of the Alzheimer Society.
- The Alzheimer Society UK offers a wealth of information and research about dementia and caregiving.
- The Canadian Women’s Brain Health Initiative shares research and information related to women and dementia. According to the site, 70% of individuals newly diagnosed with Alzheimer disease will be women.
- Baycrest has introduced a Rethinking Brain Health and Aging information portal that talks about preserving memories and changes in memory.
- BrainXchange is the Alzheimer Knowledge Exchange (AKE) and the Canadian Dementia Resource and Knowledge Exchange (CDRAKE) combined to form a new network.
Early diagnosis helps individuals plan and become better informed for the challenges that lie ahead. If you are concerned about memory loss or other symptoms of dementia contact your health care provider.