Safety campaign seeks to relieve stigma about dementia and expands to four additional multilingual communities in Ontario

TORONTO, Feb. 19, 2015 /CNW/ - The Alzheimer Society of Ontario, in partnership with the Government of Ontario, is expanding the award-winning Finding Your WayTM   program by reaching out to Arabic, Tagalog, Tamil and Urdu communities. The multicultural safety awareness initiative for people with dementia who may go missing or become lost is now available in 12 languages, helping society as a whole better understand some of the behaviours associated with the disease and in turn providing tools to deal with the risk of going missing.

"This unique program breaks the stigma attached to the disease," insists David Harvey, Chief Public Policy and Program Initiatives Officer at the Alzheimer Society of Ontario. "Dementia affects people regardless of race, religion or class. We need to find ways to support people from as many different cultures as possible."

According to the 2011 Census, more than 106,000 Ontarians speak Arabic, 128,965 speak Urdu, 85,045 Tamil and 69,605 Tagalog. Members of these communities are among the 200,000 Ontarians who have dementia today. The Finding Your WayTM program received has over $2 million in funding from the Government of Ontario and will now offer resources to communities across the province in 12 languages:  English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi, Arabic, Tagalog, Tamil and Urdu languages. Communities have benefited greatly from the multilingual, multimedia awareness safety campaign.

Statistics show that three out of five people with dementia go missing at some point, often without warning. There is greater risk of injury, even death, for those missing for more than 24 hours. Having a plan in place and knowing how to respond should a missing incident occur can help save a life.

Unfortunately, mental illnesses and neurological diseases such as dementia may be misunderstood in many ethnic communities. The lack of awareness about dementia increases the risks of missing incidents amongst people with dementia. The Alzheimer Society of Ontario recognizes the need to educate and promote awareness of dementia to Ontario's various multicultural communities.

"We've all heard news items about missing reports of people with dementia. People may not know where to seek help or what to do to offer assistance" says Chris Dennis, Interim CEO of Alzheimer Society of Ontario. "We commend the Ontario Government for recognizing the need to support people living with dementia from a culturally and linguistically diverse background, and we are thankful for their help in providing socially inclusive programs and services, such as Finding Your WayTM."

"There are nearly 200,000 Ontarians currently living with dementia and many do not speak English or French," says Mario Sergio, Minister Responsible for Seniors Affairs. "With the expansion of the Finding Your Way program we are reaching more people, and providing important information to protect those with this disease. Through Ontario's Action Plan for Seniors we continue to work with older adults, their families, caregivers and law enforcement to improve the safety and security of seniors across the province." 

Finding Your WayTM website includes information to help families create personalized safety plans and tips for the community on how to help someone with dementia who may be lost. Various public service announcements and caregiver video stories are also developed in various languages. To learn more about Finding Your WayTM, visit or contact your local Alzheimer Society at

About the Alzheimer Society of Ontario
The Alzheimer Society of Ontario is the province's leading health charity committed to helping people with Alzheimer's and other dementias. With a network of 34 Societies across Ontario, they offer Help for Today through their programs and services for people living with dementia and Hope for Tomorrow…® by funding research to find the cause and the cure. For more information about Alzheimer Society of Ontario, visit


Anyone who has dementia and is able to walk is at risk of going missing

  • Statistics show that three out of five people with dementia will go missing at some point.1
  • 50 per cent of those who go missing for 24 hours risk serious injury or death from exposure, hypothermia and drowning.2
  • 75 per cent of people who go missing are found within 2.4 kilometers from where they disappeared.

Finding Your WayTM is a multicultural program of the Alzheimer Society of Ontario designed to raise awareness of the risks of going missing and prevent such incidents from happening

  • Launched in 2013, Finding Your Way has developed awareness and education resources in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin and Punjabi.
  • In 2015, materials are also being offered in Arabic, Tagalog, Tamil and Urdu.
  • More than 106,000 Ontarians speak Arabic, 128,965 speak Urdu, 85,045 Tamil and 69,605 Tagalog.3
  • The Finding Your Way website, contains tools for caregivers to create a plan that helps to ensure the safety of people with dementia without depriving them of their independence or dignity. The information includes:
    • A personal ID page that caregivers can complete with a recent photo and description that can be shared with police in an emergency
    • Instructions on what to do when a person with dementia goes missing
    • The latest information on locating devices
    • Instructions on how to safety-proof your home and immediate environment to prevent the person with dementia from going missing
    • A list of important tips on what to do when re-uniting after a missing incident.

The Alzheimer Society works in collaboration with Local Societies across Ontario, the Alzheimer Society of Canada and police, and with support from the Government of Ontario, to deliver the program.

  • The public can call Ontario 2-1-1, a 24/7 helpline available in over 100 languages to obtain contact information for any of the 34 Alzheimer Societies across the province. The Societies offer personal support and can provide printed versions of the materials.
  • Finding Your Way works in tandem with the MedicAlert® Safely Home® program. This partnership between the Alzheimer Society of Canada and MedicAlert® helps identify people with dementia who have gone missing or who have gotten lost and return them home safely.
  • The Alzheimer Society of Ontario works closely with police, offering information and training on effective ways to handle missing incidents of people with dementia.

The risks of people going missing are greater when the community, caregivers or people with dementia themselves are unaware of the potentially severe consequences.

  • Preparation and planning are crucial to prevent people with dementia from going missing, and to ensure they are found safely and quickly. Currently, there is very little awareness of missing incidents in our communities and many people do not know where to seek help.

Dementia affects behaviour in different ways at different ages and often without warning. People with dementia may lose the ability to recognize familiar places, communicate or remember their own name or address.

  • Behaviour sometimes has an underlying medical reason; the person may be in pain or be experiencing adverse side effects of medication.
  • Behaviour has a purpose. For example, people with dementia often have difficulty expressing a need or want, so they may go to the park because of the need to keep active.
  • Behaviour can be triggered. It might be a reaction to something someone says or does, or it could be a change in the person's daily routine or physical environment.

200,000 Ontario seniors (or one in 10) have dementia4

  • By 2020, nearly 250,000 seniors in Ontario will be living with dementia.
    • Age remains the biggest risk factor, with the chance of dementia doubling every five years after 65.
    • Dementia can also occur in people as young as 40.
    • Changes in the brain resulting in dementia begin decades before symptoms appear.
    • Dementia remains incurable and so far, there are no treatments to slow down, stop, or reverse symptoms.
  • Dementia results in more years lived with disability than stroke, heart disease and all forms of cancer.
  • Over 70 per cent of people living in Ontario's long-term care homes have Alzheimer's disease or other dementias.
  • In Ontario today, families and friends spend 100 million unpaid hours caring for people with dementia. By 2020, they will spend 140 million hours.
  • Primary caregivers are most often spouses (31 per cent) or adult children and in-laws (54 per cent).
  • Women are doubly affected by Alzheimer's disease. Not only do they represent 72 per cent of Canadians living with this disease, they also account for 70 per cent of family caregivers.5

1, Alzheimer's Association


Search is an Emergency, Alzheimer Society of Canada


2011 Census of Canada


Dementia Amidst Complexity: Evidence from Ontario, Alzheimer Society of Ontario, August 2012.  


More press material available at

SOURCE Alzheimer Society of Ontario

For further information: Media contacts: Alzheimer Society of Ontario: Pascale Guillotte,, Office: 416 847-8922 / Cell : 647 465-1099; Focus Communications: Kiranpreet Cheema,, Office: 905-305-0308 ext 211 / Cell: 647-988-9186

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