Alzheimer Awareness Month

Up to 50 per cent of Canadians with dementia wait too long for diagnosis

As many as 50 per cent of Canadians with dementia are not diagnosed early enough,* losing precious time when care and support can make a tremendous difference in their quality of life and help to avert unnecessary crises for their families. That's why during Alzheimer Awareness Month, the Alzheimer Society is promoting the benefits of early diagnosis.

But fear and stigma continue to be huge barriers to seeking help. In a recent Nanos survey, 60 per cent of Canadians polled said it would be harder to disclose if they, or someone close to them, had Alzheimer’s disease compared to other diseases because of the social stigma associated with mental health issues.

Earlier diagnosis opens the door to important information, resources and support through the Alzheimer Society, which help people with dementia focus on their abilities to remain independent in their homes and communities longer. With early diagnosis, people can access medications that, although not effective for everyone, have the greatest impact when taken early. On a practical level, an early diagnosis gives someone the chance to explain the changes happening in their life to family and friends and allows families to plan ahead.

“Nova Scotia has a rapidly aging population, which is one of the main risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Chances are that most of us will or may already know someone who is living with dementia.” Said Lloyd Brown, Executive Director of the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia, “Getting a diagnosis of dementia can be devastating, but also provides an opportunity to plan for the future, set realistic expectations and enjoy the meaningful and productive years ahead.”

Throughout January, Canadians are encouraged to visit the Alzheimer Society’s campaign website,, to learn how to spot the signs of dementia, understand the benefits of a diagnosis and prepare for a doctor's visit. This year’s awareness campaign is proudly supported by the KPMG Foundation.

*Bradford, A. (2009). Missed and delayed diagnosis of dementia in primary care: Prevalence and contributing factors. Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders. Retrieved from, October-December 2009.

Available Resources:

Alzheimer Society staff and program updates, and educational resources for front line staff

Procedures for helping families making a brain donation to the Maritime Tissue Brain Bank

10 Benefits of an Early Diagnosis

Dementia: Ten things you should know

Ambiguous loss and grief: a resource for health-care providers

    Last Updated: 03/06/14
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