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Dementia

Get health and wellness information in your language

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For Support in Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Bengali and Punjabi

Indus Community Services has been one of the agencies funded to contribute to raising awareness in the South Asian Communities. Indus will be developing dementia guides and information tailored for the South Asian communities by providing them with language specific workshops, activity kits, and culturally appropriate awareness-raising campaigns on dementia and brain health.

For information in Hindi, click here.

For information in Punjabi, click here.

WHAT IS DEMENTIA?

What is dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms affecting brain function that are caused by neurodegenerative and vascular diseases or injuries. It is characterized by a decline in cognitive abilities (1). These abilities can include (2):
  • Memory
  • Awareness of person, place and time
  • Language- may forget simple words or use the wrong words
  • Basic math skills
  • Judgment
  • Abstract Thinking
  • Dementia can also affect mood, emotions and behaviour
It is estimated that almost 452,000 Canadians over the age of 65 were living with diagnosed dementia in Canada between April 2017 and March 2018, almost two-thirds of whom were women (3). According to the 2016 Census, 1,924,635 people reported being South Asian, representing one-quarter (25.1%) of the visible minority population and 5.6% of the entire Canadian population. This means South Asians also make up a significant portion of the 452,000 Canadians living with dementia.  
Types of dementia
Dementia is an umbrella term for loss of memory and other thinking abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life.     Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia. Most types of dementia are nonreversible (degenerative). Nonreversible means the changes in the brain that are causing the dementia cannot be stopped or turned back (5).
The difference between aging and aging with dementia
While dementia is not an inevitable part of aging, age is the most important risk factor. Aging may include weakening muscles and bones, stiffening of arteries and vessels, and some age-related memory changes that may show as (6):  
Signs of DementiaAge Related Changes

Language (If they speak more than one language, they may go back to the language they spoke growing up)Occasional difficulty in finding words
Using unusual words to refer to familiar objects or difficulty expressing themselves Struggling to find a word but remembering it later
Not recognizing your keys as your own, or forgetting what they doOccasionally misplacing car keys or items
Not recognizing a family member or friendForgetting the name of an acquaintance
History of getting lost in a familiar neighborhood/routes Knowledge and experiences built over years, old memories, and language would stay intact
Forgetting old memoriesForgetting the most recent events
Cognitive skills (thinking and interpreting meaning) Taking longer to process information

Other dementia symptoms

How is dementia diagnosed?
  • A healthcare provider can perform tests on attention, memory, problem solving and other cognitive abilities to see if there is cause for concern(7). A physical exam, blood tests, and brain scans like a CT or MRI can help determine an underlying cause.
  • A doctor may refer you to a geriatrician for further diagnosis. There is great importance in diagnosing dementia, and the responsibility lies with the doctor. As part of the diagnostic process, diseases with symptoms similar to dementia are excluded. Through timely diagnosis and medical support, it can help alleviate or slow the onset of symptoms. Medication may be initiated to delay dementia symptoms and manage behavioral problems. Additionally, activities that stimulate the senses (such as listening to music), that stimulate the mind (such as memory games), and physical activity can help alleviate symptoms. The doctor's evaluation plays a vital role in initiating the appropriate treatment plan and follow-up determined by the specialist doctor.
How can I interact with someone with dementia?
  • Be patient and understanding
  • Use simple words, simple sentences, and also use gestures to indicate what you are saying. – Closed ended questions (yes/no)
  • Approach from the front and clear line of site
  • Give the person time to understand and respond thoughtfully
  • Watch the person's reaction carefully, and adjust your tone accordingly
  • Provide reassurance
  • Guide or accompany them where needed
  • Provide visual cues or write them down
  • Show understanding by supporting the person's reality
  • Find and create moments of joy and laughter by praising the individual and having fun with them

A SOUTH ASIAN GUIDE TO DEMENTIA CARE

Memories in Harmony: Nurturing Minds, Bridging Cultures

Are you or someone you know navigating the journey of dementia within the South Asian community? We understand the unique challenges and cultural nuances that come with it. Introducing our dementia guide tailored specifically for South Asians living with dementia and their care partners.

  • Uncover statistical insights and types of dementia, while learning to recognize its signs and stages.
  • Explore effective communication strategies and practical tips for personal expressions with empathy and patience.
  • Dive into dementia-specific activities and empower care partners with vital self-care strategies.

Let’s unmask stigma, foster inclusive conversations, and access valuable resources together. Join us on this journey of understanding, support, and empowerment.

This guide is available in English, Punjabi, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil and Urdu.

Click here to read the ENGLISH guide online.

Click here to read the PUNJABI guide online.

Click here to read the HINDI guide online.

Click here to read the TAMIL guide online.

Click here to read the URDU guide online.

Click here to read the GUJARATI guide online.

Additional Resources

Forward with Dementia has worked with people with lived experience to publish resources about dementia that are tailored to the South Asian community, available in: English, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, and French! The resources can be viewed and downloaded for free, at www.forwardwithdementia.ca.

The Forward with Dementia initiative aims to address stigma about dementia and provide hope that people can live fulfilling lives with dementia. People living with dementia and caregivers have a right to information that is aligned with their unique culture. The Forward with Dementia team is addressing this gap by co-designing resources that are translated and adapted to be culturally-specific!  The website includes information, resources, strategies, and personal stories that were co-designed with people living with dementia, family and friend care partners, and health and social care providers.

This phase of the Forward with Dementia initiative is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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