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Dementia is a syndrome that manifests with a number of symptoms that vary among individuals and vary within the same person over time. Symptoms may include memory loss, depreciation of judgment and reasoning, mood shifts and changes from routine behaviour. Symptoms are usually hard to detect at first and become more pronounced with time. They may affect a person's ability to function at work, in social relationships and other daily activities.

Sometimes “dementia-like” symptoms can be caused by other conditions that are treatable, such as depression, thyroid disease, infections or drug interactions. If symptoms are not treatable and become more pronounced over time, they may be due to dementia - damage of nerve cells in the brain. A person should seek a thorough medical assessment if symptoms are present and persistent.

Dementia Education Needs Assessment (DENA)

An assessment tool designed to assist professionals working in organizations that provide care to older persons with dementia, make decisions about continuing education programs related to dementia (Alzheimer Disease or related dementias – ADRD). For more information click here.

Some Facts About Dementia:

1) Studies have found the prevalence of dementia in persons with intellectual disabilities to be about the same as in the general population.
2) Alzheimer disease, one form of dementia, accounts for 65% of the dementias seen in the Canadian adult population.
3) Adults with intellectual disabilities (except those with Down Syndrome) are at the same risk for Alzheimer disease as other adults in the general population.
4) Adults are at greater risk of developing Alzheimer disease if they are more than 60 years old, have Down syndrome, have had some form of severe or multiple head injury and have a history of Alzheimer's disease in their family.
5) The prevalence of dementia in the population is increasing because the incidence of dementia increases with age and a greater proportion of the population is growing older as the baby boom generation enters their senior years.
6) The figures on the incidence of dementia may vary depending on how they are reported. Studies have shown some differences in the incidence of dementia among various countries.
7) An estimated 364,000 Canadians over 65 have Alzheimer disease and related dementias. Those with Alzheimer Disease are estimated at 238,000 (65% of all dementias).

The incidence of Alzheimer Disease among people with Down Syndrome varies depending on the source of the data. The table below illustrates reported incidence ranges by age.

Age Range
Range of Reported Incidence of Alzheimer Disease Among Persons with Down Syndrome
40 - 49
10 - 25%
50 - 59
20 - 50%
Over 60
60 - 75%

© OPADD 2007