There are many changes in the brain that occur with dementia, with researchers having identified the following:
abnormal proteins in the brain
reduced blood supply to the brain
nerve cells in the brain that stop working properly
What are the most common types of dementia?
It is common for individuals to have markers of more than one type of dementia, known as mixed dementia. The most common mix is Alzheimer disease and vascular dementia.
There's currently no cure for dementia although...
Some treatments may help to ease symptoms and can help improve quality of life. The condition is not contagious.
About 2-8% of all people living with dementia in Canada are younger than age 65. This is known as young onset dementia. Since dementia is less common before age 65, it often goes unnoticed or undiagnosed. Living with young onset dementia comes with unique challenges because the person may be more likely to be:
- raising a family
- working full-time
- caring for aging parents
- seemingly fit and healthy
- carrying financial responsibilities
Each person experiences dementia and its impacts on daily life differently. One may still be able to remain active and engaged in work, home life and other responsibilities in early stages after the diagnosis.
Recent statistics from 2020 illustrate approximately 597,000 people in Canada are living with dementia, roughly 60% being women. This number is said to grow to 955,900 by the year 2030. The annual estimated cost of dementia for the Canadian economy and its healthcare system is $10.4 billion.
What increases the risk of dementia?
There are two kinds of risk factors for dementia: non-modifiable and modifiable.
Non-modifiable risk factors are ones that cannot be changed or eliminated, like aging, family history and genetics. Most cases of dementia aren’t related to genetics or inherited. But it is true that when there is a first degree relative affected, the risk of dementia is higher than if not. In less than 10% of cases genes are identified and this is an expanding area of research.
Increasing age is the biggest risk factor for dementia. The likelihood of being diagnosed with dementia is more than six times higher in people aged 80 and over compared to those aged 65-79. Not everyone develops the condition as they age.
Modifiable dementia risk factors are ones you can control by taking action such as:
- staying active
- avoiding smoking
- limiting alcohol consumption
- wearing a helmet when you bike or ski
- managing chronic health conditions, such as: diabetes and high blood pressure
Changes in the brain that may lead to dementia can begin decades before signs or symptoms appear. It is never too early or too late to take action that can benefit your brain health.
- What is dementia? (2019) Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/aging/dementia/index.html
- Government of Canada (2022) Dementia: Overview, Canada.ca. Government of Canada. Available at: www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/dementia
- Alzheimer Society Canada (2022) Navigating the path forward for dementia in Canada: The Landmark Study Report #1, Alzheimer Society of Canada. Available at: https://alzheimer.ca/en/research/reports-dementia/landmark-study-report-1-path-forward
- Alzheimer Society Canada (2016) Prevalence and monetary costs of dementia in Canada, Prevalence and Monetary costs of Dementia in Canada. Available at: https://alzheimer.ca/sites/default/files/documents/Prevalence-and-costs-of-dementia-in-Canada_Alzheimer-Society-Canada.pdf
- Alzheimer Society Canada (2021) Normal Aging versus dementia, Normal Aging Versus dementia. Alzheimer Society Canada. Available at: https://alzheimer.mb.ca/about-dementia/concerned/normal-aging-versus-dementia/
- Government of Canada (2022) Dementia: Risk factors and prevention, Canada.ca. Government of Canada . Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/dementia/risk-factors-prevention.html
- Government of Canada (2022) Types of Dementia , Dementia Overview. Government of Canada. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/dementia.html#a3
- Government of Canada (2022) Dementia: Symptoms and treatment, Treatment . Government of Canada. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/dementia/symptoms-treatment.html