There are more than 2.6 million South Asian people in Canada. As Statistics Canada has noted, this sector is “very diverse in terms of ethnic or cultural origins, mother tongue and religion.”
Dementia research and services for people in diverse South Asian communities in Canada are growing — with the vast majority of these initiatives being driven by and innovated by community members themselves. And more of these types of services and research projects are needed.
Experts discussed this and more at a November 22, 2023 edition of Dementia Talks! Canada, viewable in the video above.
Speakers at this talk:
- Navneet Dhillon, Director – Health Services, Indus Community Services, which offers specialized care for clients with dementia-related illnesses, among other services
- Navjot Gill, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Waterloo, whose research explores experiences of South Asian Canadians living with dementia and their care partners
- Sandeep Lachhar, Project Manager – Health Projects, Indus Community Services, which offers specialized care for clients with dementia-related illnesses, among other services
- Bhavini Patel, Caregiver and Advocate, who is on the CEO’s Advisory Group at Ontario Caregiver Organization, and who also participates in other groups
This talk was moderated by Toronto-based writer, editor and producer Sadaf Ahsan.
This talk is part of the Dementia Talks! Canada series. This series is produced in partnership by Alzheimer Society of Canada and Brain Canada, two of Canada’s largest brain-focused nonprofits.
Links shared in the talk chat
During land acknowledgment, we recognized some Indigenous-led work in dementia:
- Native Women’s Association of Canada projects on Aging and Dementia nwac.ca/policy/aging-and-dementia
- Anishinaabek Dementia Care anishinaabekdementiacare.ca
- Indigenous Cognitive Assessment and Research Exchange i-caare.ca
- National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health nccih.ca
And during the rest of the talk, the chat focused on South Asian people and dementia:
- 2019 UK study found Black & Asian groups younger at dementia diagnosis & had lower cognitive scores at referral pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30675737/
- 2023 UK study found aspects of dementia risk increased in South Asian people compared to white people: journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0289893
- Indus Community Services: www.induscs.ca/
- “Navigating dementia care in the South Asian community: Overcoming barriers and stigma” by Navjot Gill: theconversation.com/navigating-dementia-care-in-the-south-asian-community-overcoming-barriers-and-stigma-171788
- Resources for South Asian communities in Canada about dementia: apnahealth.org/dementia/
- Punjabi info on dementia & brain health alzheimer.ca/punjabi
- UK research on dementia, culture & ethnicity: books.google.ca/books/about/Dementia_Culture_and_Ethnicity.html?id=FpMAogEACAAJ&redir_esc=y
- Bhavini’s talk on Ontario Caregivers Connection podcast: open.spotify.com/episode/3zKghNEs1lQ6fUOhFgC9tu?si=9cc9109c153a4f0b&nd=1&dlsi=5b4e68c68b424bdb
- Story from UK: Bhagwant Kaur stresses importance of awareness & education in South Asian communities, & why it's best to seek help if you're worried about dementia. www.alzheimers.org.uk/blog/changing-perceptions-dementia-punjabi-community
- 10 Warning Signs of Dementia - Hindi - ADI www.alzint.org/u/10-warning-signs-of-dementia-Hindi.pdf
- US research on ethnicity & dementia: google.ca/books/edition/Ethnicity_and_the_Dementias/f1BtDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=ethnicity+and+dementias&printsec=frontcover
- In Punjabi – McGill Companion Guide for Dementia: www.mcgill.ca/dementia/resources/dementia-your-companion-guide
- A dementia resource in Hindi from Sheridan College & Alzheimer Society of Peel : source.sheridancollege.ca/fahcs_persons_with_dementia/1/
- "Interacting with Persons with Dementia: Hindi Audio Recordings” from Sheridan College & Alzheimer Society of Peel: youtu.be/TYJrEAEBgEs?si=Mm6r-Nk8a96ooWYI
- Resources & support for South Asian communities - including Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi helpline - Alzheimer Society of B.C. alzheimer.ca/bc/en/help-support/programs-services/support-south-asian-communities
- Some caregiving resources shared by Bhavini:
- Navjot mentioned “A Guidebook for Inclusive Research with People Living with Dementia who are part of Ethno-racial Communities.” Want a copy when it's ready? Sign up for RIA newsletter: the-ria.ca/subscribe-to-our-newsletter/
- Forward with Dementia is working to create translated, culturally appropriate resources for people living with dementia & care partners who are part of the South Asian community. For updates, email [email protected]
- The Alzheimer Society Music Project in Ontario is working to expand its multilingual offerings musicproject.ca
More information about the speakers and moderator
Navneet Dhillon, Director – Health Services, Indus Community Services
Navneet Dhillon, a dedicated professional in Human Services for over a decade, currently serves as the Director of Health Services at Indus Community Services. She leads a dynamic, multidisciplinary team dedicated to providing comprehensive support to South Asian clients and caregivers. Navneet’s expertise extends to offering dementia support and awareness through a cultural lens, ensuring that the unique needs of her community are met. She actively oversees the planning and delivery of culturally sensitive, language-specific programming for frail, elderly, and cognitively impaired program participants, embodying a commitment to inclusive and culturally appropriate health services.
Navjot Gill, Researcher and Care Partner
Navjot Gill is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Health at the University of Waterloo specializing in aging, health and well-being. Her research is focused on exploring the experiences of South Asian Canadians living with dementia and their care partners. Alongside her professional work, she is also a care partner to her grandmother, who is living with dementia. She also advocates for culturally inclusive dementia care.
Sandeep Lachhar, Project Manager – Health Projects, Indus Community Services
Sandeep Lachhar, with over a decade of experience in Health Services, is an expert in overseeing multiple high-quality seniors programs at Indus Community Services. She has been a driving force in the agency's collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada for the Dementia Strategic Fund, dedicated to providing exceptional support for persons living with dementia. Sandeep's passion extends to delivering engaging activities and education to reduce the stigma surrounding dementia, fostering a dementia-inclusive environment within the community and beyond.
Bhavini Patel, Caregiver and Advocate
Bhavini Patel became a caregiver in 2014. She volunteers her time to highlight the key role that caregivers play within our health care system. She is on the CEO’s Advisory Group at Ontario Caregiver Organization, is a Patient Representative on the Quality and Effectiveness Committee at Trillium Health Partners, and is an Advisory Committee Member, Health Mentor and Facilitator with the University of Toronto and University Health Network’s Interprofessional Education Program (the latter is also known as the Centre for Advancing Collaborative Healthcare & Education). Professionally, Bhavini is taking a break from her operations and strategy leadership roles in the corporate sector.
Moderator: Sadaf Ahsan
Sadaf Ahsan is a life and culture writer based in Toronto. She previously worked as a staff writer at The Juggernaut, NOW Magazine, Canadian Press and the National Post. She currently moonlights as a blog editor at Shameless Magazine, while her work appears in the Globe & Mail, Best Health and Refinery29. She is also co-host of Frequency Network’s The Reheat, and producer and co-writer of the Frequency’s 2023 documentary on abortion rights in Canada, Before Morgentaler.