TORONTO, Sept. 08, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The well-being of Canadian seniors is in hyperfocus amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new national survey by The Baycrest Foundation. The Canadian Brain Health Index, an Angus Reid poll of 1,510 Canadians, reveals the fundamental importance of improving healthcare for older adults and addressing social issues affecting Canada’s most vulnerable population.

The study provides a benchmark of attitudes towards seniors, healthcare research and brain health, and is intended to support the launch of the fifth annual Yogen Früz Brain Project on behalf of Baycrest. The project is a public purpose initiative to raise awareness about brain health and critical funding for research at Baycrest for Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

Issues facing Canadian seniors
Respondents ranked residential care (92%) and dementia (90%) as the two leading areas that need addressing in order to improve healthcare for Canada’s aging population. Breakthrough research in brain health (85%), social isolation/loneliness (85%), and well-being and lifestyle supports (84%) are also fundamental areas requiring focus. 

In Canada, more than 564,000 people currently live with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia and despite popular belief, it is not a natural or inevitable consequence of aging. Younger Canadians agree dementia is an important health concern to address – an almost equal number of 18-34-year-olds (87%) and 35-54-year-olds (88%), concur. That number rises to 93 per cent for those aged 55+. Meanwhile, women are more likely to consider brain health research more important than men (88% and 80% respectively).

The COVID-19 pandemic and senior healthcare
The pandemic has exposed the fissures in society, revealing a deep-rooted need for change. Virtually all respondents agree that COVID-19 has uncovered a greater need to focus on senior healthcare (96%) and to support the most vulnerable among us more generally (93%).

The survey also found eight-in-10 Canadians (82%) report a greater need for community connection (through social programs, activities, arts, etc.); a similar number (79%) said more critical healthcare research is needed for diseases such as dementia.

“Canadians overwhelmingly feel that more can be done for the well-being of older adults in this country,” said Josh Cooper, President and CEO of The Baycrest Foundation. “Now is the time to turn these beliefs into action and safeguard aging Canadians. Funds raised through The Yogen Früz Brain Project allow us to change the future of brain health and continue to protect the lives of seniors here in Toronto and worldwide.”

Bringing brain health to light
When asked which of the “following activities can improve brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline,” staying in good health and exercising (98%) lead the way. Engaging in one’s community (90%), art (89%) and playing/learning an instrument (87%) were close behind. Rounding out the list was learning a new language (82%).

Younger Canadians (18-34-year-olds) are more aware than those aged 55+ that learning new activities is important for promoting brain health. While 87 per cent of younger Canadians understand that learning a new language will have a positive impact on brain health, only 74 per cent of those aged 55+ agree. Meanwhile, nine-in-10 of the younger cohort believe learning a new instrument is important, a number that drops slightly for the older cohort (84%).

“There is so much people can do at any age to reduce the risk of cognitive decline,” said Cooper. “Being educated, staying in good health and exercising can reduce your dementia risk by 28 per cent. Additionally, speaking two languages can delay the onset of dementia by four years.”

Yogen Früz Brain Project returns for its fifth year
With the generous support of its title sponsor, Yogen Früz, The Baycrest Foundation is once again teaming up with local and global artists and celebrities to launch year five of the Yogen Früz Brain Project. The exhibit of 50 brain sculptures includes a curated look back at some of the inspirational works from the first four years that tie into the themes of brain resilience, memory, neuroplasticity, stigma and protection.

Sculptures are available for purchase with proceeds going to support brain research, patient care, education and innovation at Baycrest, a leader in the field of aging and brain health.

The brainstallations
Artwork designed by celebrities and artists including Anthony Ricciardi, Ashley Campbell and Neil Dankoff will be on display at various locations across Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area until the end of the year. The public can vote for their favourite brain sculpture from now until November 1, 2020 through the People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Roche.

Click here for a full list of this year’s artists.


The full results of the Canadian Brain Health Index are available from the contacts below. 

About the Canadian Brain Health Index
From June 24 to June 26, 2020 an online survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1,510 Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, the sample plan would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About the Baycrest Foundation
The Baycrest Foundation supports programs and services that promote excellence in care, research, innovation and education in aging and brain health. As the charitable arm of Baycrest, the Foundation provides crucial funding for areas such as: ongoing programs and a continuum of care services for the community; innovative research into cognition, dementia and brain health; and local, national and international education that supports the vision of creating a world where every older adult enjoys a life of purpose, inspiration and fulfilment. For more information, visit 

About Baycrest
Baycrest is a global leader in geriatric residential living, healthcare, research, innovation and education, with a special focus on brain health and aging. Fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, Baycrest provides excellent care for older adults combined with an extensive clinical training program for the next generation of healthcare professionals and one of the world’s top research institutes in cognitive neuroscience, the Rotman Research Institute. Baycrest is home to the federally and provincially-funded Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), a solution accelerator focused on driving innovation in the aging and brain health sector, and is the developer of Cogniciti – a free online memory assessment for Canadians 40+ who are concerned about their memory. Founded in 1918 as the Toronto Jewish Old Folks Home, Baycrest continues to embrace the long-standing tradition of all great Jewish healthcare institutions to improve the well-being of people in their local communities and around the globe. Baycrest is helping create a world where every older adult enjoys a life of purpose, inspiration and fulfilment. For more information please visit:

Media contacts:
Holly Brennan, MAVERICK

Emma Ninham, MAVERICK

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at