About dementia


Facts about dementia

Information in this section comes from four reliable sources, including the Alzheimer Society’s A new way of looking at the impact of dementia in Canada, released in 2012. Read about the sharp rise in the number of Canadians with cognitive impairment, including dementia.

Prevalence: number of cases in a given year

  • In 2011, 747,000 Canadians were living with cognitive impairment, including dementia - that's 14.9 per cent of Canadians 65 and older.1
  • By 2031, if nothing changes in Canada, this figure will increase to 1.4 million.1

Economic impact

  • Today, the combined direct (medical) and indirect (lost earnings) costs of dementia total $33 billion per year.1 
  • If nothing changes, this number will climb to $293 billion a year by 2040.1

Impact of care

Caregiving is a critical issue for people living with dementia and for Canadians in general.

  • One in five Canadians aged 45 and older provides some form of care to seniors living with long-term health problems.3
  • A quarter of all family caregivers are seniors themselves; a third of them (more than 200,000) are older than 75.3
  • In 2011, family caregivers spent in excess of 444 million unpaid hours looking after someone with cognitive impairment, including dementia.1
  • This figure represents $11 billion in lost income and 227,760 full-time equivalent employees in the workforce.1
  • By 2040, family caregivers will spend a staggering 1.2 billion unpaid hours per year.1
  • The physical and psychological toll on family caregivers is considerable; up to 75 per cent will develop psychological illnesses; 15 to 32 per cent experience depression.4

Global impact of dementia

  • As of 2010, more than 35.6 million people worldwide are living with dementia, or more than the total population of Canada.4
  • The global prevalence of dementia stands to double every 20 years, to 65.7 million in 2030, and 115.4 million in 2050.4
  • Total health-care costs for people with dementia amount to more than 1 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP), or US$604 billion in 2010.4

It's time to act

In 2011, the first wave of the baby boomers turned 65.

  • Between 2 per cent and 10 per cent of all cases of dementia start before the age of 65.4
  • The risk for dementia doubles every five years after age 654
  • Alzheimer's disease and other dementias represent the most significant social and health crisis of the 21st century. Without fundamental changes in research funding and service delivery, they have the potential to overwhelm Canadian families and our health-care system.
  • The time to act is now. Canada needs a national dementia plan aimed at alleviating the burden of the disease through improved education, care and service delivery and increased funding for research and training.
  • On September 20, 2013, Alzheimer Society of Canada CEO Mimi Lowi-Young delivered a speech to the Economic Club of Canada calling on the Federal Government to establish a Canadian Alzheimer’s disease and dementia partnership to lead and facilitate the development and implementation of a national strategy.
  • The Federal Government took a step in the right direction when it announced its commitment to renew investments in health research to tackle dementia and related illnesses during the Speech to the Throne in October of 2013.


  1. A new way of looking at the impact of dementia in Canada. Alzheimer Society, 2012
  2. Baby Boomer Survey: Alzheimer's disease… it's more than you think. (2010). Alzheimer Society of Canada
  3. Eldercare: What We Know Today. (2008). Statistics Canada
  4. World Alzheimer Report 2012, A public health priority. (2012). World Health Organization (WHO)

Last Updated: 08/14/12
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