November 1st, 2020

Combating dementia stigma


By Sulz, Dave on January 7, 2020.

Awareness campaign seeks to remove shame from dementia picture

SUBMITTED BY THE ALZHEIMER’S SOCIETY

Canadians living with dementia are going public for a third consecutive year in an effort to change hearts and minds and tackle the ongoing discrimination they experience in their day-to-day lives.

“When did it become a crime to forget something?” asks Manitoba resident Tanis, a former nurse living with vascular dementia. “I want to get the word out that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, let’s get rid of that stigma so that people can talk about dementia and get the help they need.”

Tanis is one of many Canadians who are courageously stepping forward with their personal stories in the Alzheimer Society’s nation-wide campaign, “I live with dementia. Let me help you understand,” which launched Monday as part of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

Spurred by alarming research indicating that one in four Canadians would feel ashamed or embarrassed if they had dementia, the campaign gives a voice to Canadians with dementia who are frustrated by the constant assumptions and misinformation associated with the disease.

“Unless you have experienced it firsthand, it can be difficult to appreciate the damage stigma can do to individuals and families facing dementia,” says Pauline Tardif, CEO, Alzheimer Society of Canada. “Too often, negative feelings, attitudes and stereotypes surrounding dementia dissuade people from seeking help and discourage others from lending their support. By providing a platform for Canadians to share their stories, we can cultivate empathy and compassion and help break down the stigma so that Canadians with dementia can live a full life.”

Joining Tanis in this year’s campaign are:

– Carol-Ann, a committed advocate for dementia in her small-knit community in Alberta, cares for her husband Stan at home. He’s slowly declining since he was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment 10 years ago at age 70. “It really hurts to hear disparaging comments. People with dementia are not crazy, they’re not losing their minds.”

– Roger Marple, diagnosed with young onset dementia, lives in Medicine Hat and was invited to join the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s advisory group to help raise awareness of the needs of people with dementia. Roger also serves on the board of directors of the Alzheimer’s Society of Alberta and North West Territories and is active in supporting dementia research in Canada. Roger has made it his mission to dispel myths about the disease and the stigma associated with dementia. >

To read these and other stories, visit the dedicated campaign website at ilivewithdementia.ca.

Through a host of programs and services, advocacy and public education, Alzheimer Societies across the country are there to help Canadians overcome the challenges of living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. The society also funds research to improve care and find new treatments and a cure. Over half a million Canadians are living with dementia today, excluding the thousands of family members who provide direct care. In the next 12 years, nearly a million Canadians will have dementia.

As part of Awareness Month, the public is invited to a free showing of the documentary “The Caregiver’s Club” Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Lethbridge Public Library’s downtown branch.

For more information about dementia or to find out how you can help, please contact the Alzheimer Society’s Lethbridge office at 403-329-3766.

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