If a close friend told you she has dementia, would you avoid her for fear of being embarrassed by what she might say or do?
If you answered “yes,” you’re not alone.
According to a recent poll by Alzheimer’s Disease International, 40 per cent of people with dementia reported they had been avoided or treated differently after diagnosis.
It’s no surprise, then, that one in four respondents cited stigma as a reason to conceal their diagnosis, says Jane Hope, the Oceanside support and education coordinator for the non-profit Alzheimer Society of B.C.
That’s why the Society has chosen “See me, not my disease. Let’s talk about dementia” as the theme of the annual Alzheimer Awareness Month, which runs through January nationally.
The goal is to address myths about the disease, shift attitudes and make it easier to talk about dementia, says Hope.
“Stereotypes and misinformation are what prevent people with dementia from getting the help they need and stop others from taking the disease seriously.” For example, Alzheimer’s disease is more than having the occasional “senior moment” or losing your keys. It is a progressive degenerative brain disorder that affects each person differently. Sadly, it is fatal and there is no cure.
Today, 747,000 Canadians have dementia, 70,000 whom are British Columbians. While dementia can affect people as young as 40 years of age, the risk doubles every five years after 65.
For information on local assistance, including support and information groups and educational seminars, contact Hope toll-free at 1-800-462-2833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Submitted by Alzheimer Society of B.C.