The Importance of Education and Support for Family Caregivers of People Living with Dementia


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Family caregivers provide the equivalent of 235,000 full-time unpaid jobs in Canada, according to the Alzheimer Society.

It is estimated that there are over 350,000 family caregivers in Canada. Family caregivers, providing on average 26 hours of unpaid work per week, are primarily female and a spouse or child of the person living with dementia, according to a study by the Alzheimer Society of Canada. This is causing a strain on the health and well-being of family care circles. There are simply too many cases of dementia for the healthcare system to keep up with, and not enough resources available to support carers.

This is why the Alzheimer Society of Toronto is raising awareness of its programming and services, meeting the growing family caregiving community’s needs and increasing capacity to support the short-staffed professional healthcare worker community.

“The quality of life for individuals with dementia is closely tied to the level of support their caregivers receive,” shared Dave Spedding, Chief Executive Officer of the Alzheimer Society of Toronto. “At the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, we emphasize the importance of educating personal support workers, as their knowledge is fundamental to providing excellent care and improving the quality of life.” Something that Spedding knows first-hand.  His mother has been living with dementia for almost 20 years and personal support workers are critical to her ongoing well-being and quality of life. Ensuring that caregivers have the resources to build resilience and the access to training cannot be overstated. “When caregivers are thriving and well-supported, it positively impacts the well-being of individuals, like my mother, living with Alzheimer’s.” Spedding said.

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Addressing the Need for Healthcare Workers

The fact is, there currently needs to be more personal support workers to address the growing demands on the healthcare system. In 2022, the government of Ontario began addressing this need with an incentive program to increase enrollment in personal support worker programs at Ontario professional colleges by offering free tuition for a limited time. While this supported program enrollment, there is still a gap in the dementia-focused training and education available.

Fortunately, the Alzheimer Society of Toronto offers a variety of certificate and non-certificate programs focused on providing a well-rounded framework of training and education to professional and family carers. These programs include webinars, workshops and courses.

One course is U-First!®, designed to help frontline staff develop a common knowledge base, language, and approach to caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. U-First!® has a complementary program specifically designed for the family carer to help provide greater insight and confidence and foster whole teamwork when supporting a person living with dementia.

We hope to see a rise in available healthcare workers to meet the aging population’s needs, specifically those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Until then, the Alzheimer Society of Toronto hopes to raise awareness of its professional training programs for healthcare workers and programs that support the family caregiver.

Dementia-friendly communities, caregiver well-being and supporting the healthcare system are all essential ways to keep our communities safe and healthy. At the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, by enrolling in one of the many training opportunities available as either a professional or a family caregiver, you will gain the tools and training essential to provide the high level of care that supports both the health and dignity of the person living with dementia and their carer.

For information on how to register for education and training with the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, visit

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Alzheimer Society of Toronto offers support, information, programs and education to people living with dementia, their families and their caregivers, to increase public awareness of dementia, to promote research, and to advocate for services that respect the dignity of the individual.


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