Alzheimer's disease affects not only the elderly, said a study Monday that found 14 percent of the estimated 500,000 Canadians suffering from dementia are under the age of 65.
The Alzheimer Society warned that an expected doubling of cases in the coming two decades, due to the aging population and the trend toward earlier diagnosis, risks overwhelming Canada's health care system.
"As it stands today, the number of Canadians living with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia will double within a generation," Ray Congdon of the Alzheimer Society said in a statement.
"This new data only reinforces the fact that Alzheimer's disease and related dementias are a rising concern in this country, an epidemic that has the potential to overwhelm the Canadian health care system."
In the meantime, businesses and industry sectors "are also being affected as our boomer generation, a generation of leaders and mentors, are affected by dementia," said the Canadian society's chief executive Scott Dudgeon.
More than 70,000 Canadians diagnosed with Alzheimer's are under age 65, and around 50,000 of them are under age 60, the society said.
Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder that manifests itself as premature senility.
Studies have shown it to be associated with plaques in the brain and according to the Alzheimer's Society, one in 11 Canadians over age 65 suffer from it.