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20 Oct 2017

Is Canada Investing Enough in Dementia Research?


Topics: Senior Health

More than 47 million people around the world have dementia. Dementia refers to a deterioration in cognitive function, including memory and comprehension. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia but other conditions can also be responsible. Dementia is usually chronic and progressive, so it has a major impact on people’s lives.

Countries around the world are working towards a cure for Alzheimer’s and other causes of dementia. You may be wondering how much money Canada is investing in dementia research. Here are the details about some of the dementia research initiatives happening in Canada.

Ontario’s Dementia Strategy

In its 2017 budget, Ontario created a new dementia strategy. Over the next three years, the province proposes to invest $100 million in this strategy. The 2017-18 budget sets aside $53.8 billion for healthcare spending, so the new funding for Alzheimer’s disease is a small part of the overall provincial budget.

How will that $100 million investment be spent? The province has several initiatives planned. It plans to run targeted public awareness campaigns to help reduce the stigma surrounding dementia. Reduced stigma will make it easier for people who are noticing any of the early signs of dementia to seek treatment.

Another proposed initiative is more access to adult day programs. These programs provide a safe, fun environment for people with dementia. Caregivers also benefit from these programs. It’s hard to balance caregiving with a full-time job, and sending your loved one to a day program helps you focus on your job. The Ontario government plans to increase the operating hours of these programs and provide transportation to help people get to the programs.

Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging

The Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) is an initiative started by the federal government. The consortium received $31.5 million from the federal government and another $24 million from provincial partners. The Alzheimer Society, a prominent not-for-profit health organization, contributed $4.05 million to the CCNA. With this funding, 340 researchers on 20 teams nationwide are able to study dementia.

The CCNA’s research focuses on prevention, treatment, and quality of life for people with dementia. Some teams are working on discovering new genes associated with Alzheimer’s. Others are developing new MRI methods to scan brain diseases. Treatment-focused teams are using clinical trials to learn new treatment methods and study how exercise is related to cognitive decline. Teams are also studying how technology can be used to improve quality of life for people with dementia.

The consortium is also running a large-scale study about dementia, COMPASS-ND. This study is following 1,600 Canadians, aged 50 to 90, who either have dementia or are at risk of developing it. Researchers hope to learn more about who’s at risk of developing dementia, how early the condition can be detected, and what tests can be used for early detection. 

Canadian Institutes of Health Research Dementia Research Strategy

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is a federal agency that funds Canadian health research. The agency investigates serious health issues, including dementia. The CIHR Dementia Research Strategy supports research into dementia. In the past five years, more than $193 million has been invested in this research.

This investment is being put towards three main research focuses. One focus is preventing the disease from occurring. Researchers need to discover the causes of dementia and Alzheimer’s to meet this goal. Another focus is slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. By better understanding the mechanisms of the disease, researchers hope to be able to slow it. The final goal of the research is to improve the quality of life of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Improving quality of life includes improving access to quality care for Alzheimer’s patients.

With so many investments being made on the provincial and federal levels, breakthroughs in dementia research could come at any time.


Tennille Kerrigan

Tenille is the president of Senior Helpers Canada, the premier franchise that delivers on what families and their loved ones need most. She has bachelor’s degree in business administration from York University, and has over 10 years of experience as a business owner and director. With Senior Helpers, our franchisees provide the professionalism and expert care that families and their aging loved ones require.

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