In the early 1980s there was little public awareness of Alzheimer’s disease in New Zealand and virtually no support services were available to people with dementia and their carers. This prompted a small group of Christchurch social workers to form the first ever support group in New Zealand dedicated to helping people care for those with dementia. Initially known as ADARDS (Alzheimers Disease and Related Disorders Society). The organisation grew into Alzheimers Canterbury at a regional level, with 20 other regional groups around the country under the umbrella of Alzheimers New Zealand. In August 2016 Alzheimers Canterbury left the Alzheimers Federation and rebranded as Dementia Canterbury on 1st November 2016.
Support groups for carers remain an integral part of Dementia Canterbury and as the organisation has grown and developed, it has incorporated the important roles of education, volunteering, advocacy and support to all people affected by dementia. Dementia Canterbury's services have now been extended and now covers the West Coast, Ashburton region, North Canterbury and Kaikoura.