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Living with Dementia

The SIIP project is designed to reduce social isolation among older adults living with mild to moderate dementia, and their care partners, in Waterloo Region.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is caused by disorders affecting the brain. Dementia is characterized by memory loss, difficulties thinking and problem-solving, as well as changes in mood, behaviour and ability to communicate.

These problems gradually worsen over time and interfere with a person’s ability to carry out daily activities and to live independently.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Other types include vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and Lewy body dementia.

Dementia and Social Isolation

The challenges associated with dementia can make it difficult for those affected to establish or maintain personal relationships, potentially causing lost connections with friends, family members and the wider community.

Canadians living with dementia regularly experience many forms of discrimination: being ignored or dismissed, being taken advantage of, being physically or verbally abused, being socially rejected or avoided.

People with dementia are often seen as incapable or their abilities are underestimated due to our stigmatized view of their condition, resulting in systems and services that promote passivity and dependence, rather than purpose, growth and resilience.

For these reasons, living with dementia puts older adults at greater risk of social isolation.

Impact on Care Partners

Care partners of people living with dementia often report high levels of stress, loss of sleep, depression and feeling worried or frustrated. Many older adult care partners may be managing their own complex health needs. The overwhelming demands of their caregiving responsibilities can have a significant impact on their physical and mental health. Care partners of people with dementia are also at risk of becoming socially isolated.

Dementia Numbers

Dementia is the second largest cause of disability in older adults, and the fastest growing cause of disability in the world (OECD, 2015). In 2016 there were 564,000 Canadians living with dementia, based on data from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging. By 2031 it is estimated that the number will increase to 937,000 (Alzheimer Society Canada, 2016). Every year, 25,000 new cases are diagnosed. The majority of people with mild and moderate dementia live in the community, including many older persons with undetected dementia (Sternberg, 2000).

According to the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, the number of people diagnosed with dementia in the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network catchment area is expected to increase to more than 13,500 in 2020 (ASO, 2012).

Dementia Resources