Dementia caregivers suffering in silence, feeling isolated: study

It’s time to have our eyes wide open for all of those who are aging and all who will care for them.  There is a tremendous cost to families as aging parents move down the path of illness, dementia, and end-of-life.  Education is paramount.  Patient Pathways is ramping up our Empowered Patient & Caregiver: Advance Care Planning workshops in the fall, throughout the lower mainland to help seniors and their supports get this vital information.

Global National reports on a study from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. The full report, Dementia in Canada, is first comprehensive look at this complex illness and its effects on seniors, caregivers and health systems. There is also a summary report which highlights the findings:

  • About 1 in 4 seniors age 85+ have been diagnosed with dementia
    The population of Canadians age 65 and older is increasing; as a result, so is the number of people living with dementia.The prevalence of dementia more than doubles every 5 years for Canadians age 65 and older, from less than 1% for those age 65 to 69 to about 25% for those 85 and older. Dementia is more prevalent among women than men, and the gap increases with age.Go to How dementia impacts Canadians  
  • Seniors with dementia who live at home require support to do so comfortably
    About 261,000 seniors with dementia in Canada live outside of publicly funded long-term care or nursing homes. A larger proportion of these seniors have severe cognitive impairment, exhibit responsive behaviours and show signs of depression than other seniors.Go to Dementia in home and community care  
  • Use of antipsychotics and restraints declining for seniors with dementia in long-term care
    In 2015–2016, more than two-thirds of residents in long-term care or nursing homes had dementia. These residents have a higher risk of being given antipsychotics without a diagnosis of psychosis and of being restrained compared with other residents. Policy changes and educational supports in this area have led to improvements in many jurisdictions that submit data to CIHI.Go to Dementia in long-term care  
  • Seniors with dementia wait longer in emergency departments, are more likely to be admitted and more prone to harm
    Because patients with dementia need complex care, they stay longer in emergency departments, have higher hospitalization rates and have longer hospital stays than other seniors. Longer stays contribute to the fact that 1.5 times as many seniors with dementia experience hospital harm as those without.Go to Dementia in hospitals  
  • Canadians diagnosed with dementia before age 65 face unique challenges
    Regardless of the type of care received, the proportion of Canadians with young-onset dementia is approximately 3%. Many of these people have rarer genetic forms of the disease. Canadians with young-onset dementia may face more stigma related to the disease and have unique challenges because they are likely still working.Go to Young-onset dementia  
  • Rates of injuries from falls are higher for seniors who have dementia and who live in lower-income neighbourhoods
    While all seniors are susceptible to falls, hospitalization rates are 23% higher for seniors with dementia in lower-income neighbourhoods than in more affluent areas. The analysis looks at hospitalizations related to falls by 5 income levels.Go to Dementia and falls  
  • Seniors with a dementia diagnosis are less likely to receive end-of-life care
    Seniors with dementia have a higher mortality rate than other seniors but are less likely to be referred for palliative and/or end-of-life care, which includes proper pain medications and hospice care.Go to Palliative and end-of-life care  
  • Higher distress, longer hours reported by unpaid caregivers
    Unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia spend more time caregiving and face higher levels of distress than those caring for other seniors. CIHI data shows that unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia spend an average of 26 hours a week caring for their loved ones, compared with 17 hours for caregivers of other seniors.Of greater concern, almost twice as many caregivers of seniors with dementia exhibit symptoms of distress, such as anger, depression or feeling unable to continue (45% versus 26%).



Caregiver burdens are time-consuming, expensive, and distressing. There is an increasing need for community supports.