Alzheimer Society and Government of Canada Target 1 Million Dementia Friends

Biggest-ever campaign to tackle stigma and build awareness launched

Windsor, Ontario – June 25, 2015 The Alzheimer Society of Windsor and Essex County, alongside the Government of Canada and other provincial and local Alzheimer Societies across the country, is seeking to have one million Dementia Friends by 2017.

This is part of the Dementia Friends Canada campaign, which was recently launched in Edmonton. Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose was the first Canadian to sign up as a Dementia Friend.

“One million is the critical mass we need to start reducing the stigma and misinformation around Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” says Sally Bennett Olczak, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Windsor and Essex County. “We need to overcome this first hurdle so people with dementia, as well as their partners in care, can receive better help and understanding from their family, friends, and community.”

Living with dementia comes with good days and bad but the most challenging part is the stigma behind it. Canadians with dementia often feel labelled, dismissed, and cut off from friends - even their families.

Modelled after Dementia Supporters in Japan and Dementia Friends in the United Kingdom, Dementia Friends Canada is an Alzheimer Society and Government of Canada initiative. It aims to provide Canadians with the basic information they need to better understand what it’s like to live with the disease and actions they can take to help people live fully and remain active.   

To become a Dementia Friend, visit the Dementia Friends Canada website (, watch a short video featuring veteran Canadian actor Eric Peterson (Corner Gas, Street Legal), register, and commit to an action. The website features other resources and ways to “friendraise” through social media.

Three out of four Canadians know someone with dementia – a neighbour, friend, co-worker or family member. Even if they don’t already know someone, they soon will. The number of Canadians with dementia is expected to more than double to 1.4 million in less than 20 years. In Windsor-Esssex, over 6,100 have been diagnosed with some form of dementia.

Age continues to be a primary risk factor for dementia. The causes of dementia are not fully known, effective treatments are lacking, and there is still no cure.

Dementia Friends is more than just awareness. “With one million Canadians performing simple actions to support persons with dementia, we can expect to change the face of dementia and improve the quality of life for those with it,” says Bennett Olczak.

To become a Dementia Friend, visit Hashtag #Becomeafriend or visit us on Facebook and Instagram.

The Alzheimer Society is the leading nationwide health charity for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Active in more than 150 communities across Canada, the Society offers Help for Today through our programs and services for people living with dementia and Hope for Tomorrow...® by supporting research to find the cause and the cure.

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For more information, please contact:

Peggy Winch, Manager of Fund Development and Community Engagement

Telephone: 519-974-2220 ext. 225 | Email: | Website:

Last Updated: 11/08/2017