Backgrounder Article from  Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Social Inclusion of Individuals with Dementia and Caregivers

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Dementia refers to a set of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Dementia itself is not a specific disease but is the result of many diseases, the most common being Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia due to stroke.

Dementia can be a barrier to social inclusion for the individual affected and their caregivers. For example, day-to-day functions, such as driving, making financial and health care decisions, and remaining independent in the community are key areas where the challenges for the person with dementia can be the greatest.

Social inclusion implies that an individual is meaningfully interacting with others and participating in society. It corresponds to the daily life of persons, their habits, and the completion of their personal and professional objectives. This includes access to social, health and medical care, as well as community benefits. The concept of social inclusion highlights the need to remove barriers to equal participation in society and to assure that inclusion is free from discrimination.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) launched in partnership with the Alzheimer Society Canada a funding opportunity to support research on interventions and programs aimed at reducing stigma associated with dementia, increasing awareness and inclusion of persons with dementia and their caregivers as full members of our communities, and identifying strategies to diminish the burden on caregivers.

Four research projects were funded:

Dr. Gregory Marchildon at the University of Toronto will conduct a comparative policy analysis of existing programs to support people with dementia and complex needs, and their unpaid caregivers. 

Dr. Sharon Kaasalainen at McMaster University will evaluate a new program called Namaste Care, which aims to promote social inclusion and quality of life for older adults and their family caregivers by engaging them in meaningful activities together.

Dr. Mark Skinner at Trent University will study the National Ballet School of Canada’s Sharing Dance for Seniors program as a way to promote social inclusion for people living with dementia and their caregivers.

Dr. Stefanie Blain-Moraes at McGill University will study the effect of two interventions – Moving With and Tuning In, which involve the use of movement and sound, respectively – on the social experience of people living with dementia and the caregivers. 

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is providing a total of $1,221,310 over four years to support these projects. The Alzheimer Society of Canada is providing an additional $750,000.

These projects were funded as part of CIHR’s Dementia Research Strategy, which aims to support research on the latest preventive, diagnostic, and treatment approaches to Alzheimer's disease and related dementia.


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