Alzheimer Society of Canada new Alzheimer fact sheet

Dementia is a syndrome consisting of a number of symptoms that include loss of memory, judgment and reasoning, and changes in mood, behaviour and communication abilities. Alzheimer Disease, the most common form of dementia, accounts for 64 per cent of all dementias in Canada.

  • Alzheimer Disease is a degenerative brain disorder that destroys vital brain cells. It is not a normal part of aging.
  • The symptoms of Alzheimer Disease include a gradual onset and continuing decline of memory, changes in judgment or reasoning, and an inability to perform familiar tasks.
  • There is no known cause or cure for Alzheimer Disease. However, there is medication to treat some of the symptoms.
  • Alzheimer Disease can strike adults at any age, but occurs most commonly in people over 65.
  • There are two forms of Alzheimer Disease: Familial Autosomal Dominant (FAD), a rare form of the disease, and the more common Sporadic.
  • An estimated 364,000 Canadians or 1 in 13 over the age of 65 currently have Alzheimer Disease or a related dementia.1
  • By the year 2031, it is estimated that over 3/4 million Canadians will have Alzheimer Disease or a related dementia.1 This figure does not include the countless family members who must cope with the effects of the disease.

Number of Canadians affected with
Alzheimer Disease and related dementias









  • Early in this century, baby boomers will move into the age of highest risk for Alzheimer Disease.
  • Women are more affected by the disease than men: women account for over 2/3 of all those over 65 with the disease.1 Most caregivers are women.
  • Canadians spend an estimated $5.5 billion a year on persons with Alzheimer Disease and related dementias.2
  • Over 52 per cent of Canadians know someone with Alzheimer Disease and almost 25 per cent have someone affected in their family.3
  • Currently, there are 18 million people in the world with dementia -- this is estimated to rise to 34 million by the year 2025.4
  • Currently, 66 per cent of the total number of people with dementia live in developing countries. This is expected to rise to 75 per cent by 2025.

Alzheimer Society

Founded 25 years ago, the Alzheimer Society is a nationwide, not-for-profit health organization dedicated to helping people affected by Alzheimer Disease.

  • The Society consists of a national office, 10 provincial organizations and more than 140 local offices across the country.
  • The Alzheimer Society depends on donations to support its programs and services. The vast majority of funds come from public support.
  • The Society is a leading funder of Alzheimer research in Canada and offered $3.4 million in grants and awards in 2003.
  • The Society provides research grants to Canadian researchers and training support to young researchers to ensure a continuous flow of scientific knowledge into the field.
  • The Society's research program funds biomedical research into the cause and cure of Alzheimer Disease and funds social and psychosocial research to find improved methods of diagnosis, caregiving and service delivery.
  • Applications to the research program are subjected to a rigorous peer-review process to ensure that only the highest calibre projects are funded.
  • The Society develops and provides support and educational programs for people with the disease, their families, caregivers and members of the health-care team.
  • The Society has established the nationwide Safely Home™ -- Alzheimer Wandering Registry program designed to help find a person with Alzheimer Disease who is lost and assist in a safe return home.
  • In 1999, there were eight Alzheimer Society early-stage support groups across Canada. By 2002, the number of groups grew to more than 60. These groups offer information and peer support to people with early-stage Alzheimer Disease and related dementias.
  • In 2003, the Society responded to over 900,000 requests from the public for information on Alzheimer Disease.
  • The Alzheimer Society's national Web site is The site contains information and discussion forums for people with Alzheimer Disease, their families, caregivers and members of the health-care team.

The Alzheimer Society's symbol is the forget-me-not flower. This symbol represents memory loss -- one of the symptoms of Alzheimer Disease -- and serves as a reminder to remember people with Alzheimer Disease and their caregivers.


  1. Figure is for 2001 based on projected estimates in the following study: Canadian Study of Health and Aging Working Group: Canadian Study of Health and Aging: study methods and prevalence of dementia. Can Med Assoc J 1994; 150: 899-913. (Note: The CSHA only surveyed people over the age of 65.)
  2. Figure is for 2000 based on a projected estimate from: Ostbye T, Crosse E. Net economic costs of dementia in Canada. Can Med Assoc J 1994; 151(10): 1457-64. And personal communication, 2000, CSHA.
  3. The Aluminum Association Alzheimer's Disease Survey, Public Opinion Strategies, 1997.
  4. World Alzheimer's Day bulletin, Alzheimer's Disease International, 2000.

[Other related dementias include: Vascular Dementia, Pick's Disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and Lewy body Dementia. Information sheets on these dementias are available from the Alzheimer Society.]


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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