LETTER: Change the conversation about dementia

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. thanks the people of Greater Victoria for their encouraging response to January’s annual Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and to our campaign intended to challenge stigma surrounding the disease: “Yes. I live with dementia. Let me help you understand.”

Recently, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences released a report by a panel of dementia experts highlighting priorities for a national dementia strategy, work undertaken by the Public Health Agency of Canada in 2018. The authors emphasized the importance of adopting healthy lifestyles that might prevent or delay dementia, as well as overcoming stigma and fear of living with dementia. They stressed that it’s possible to live well with the disease.

Increasingly, when we talk about raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, we need to talk about challenging stigma. Negative attitudes about the disease mean that when someone begins to suspect that they – or someone close to them – might have dementia, they are less likely to seek out a diagnosis. They’re less likely disclose their situation to others. Worrying that someone will judge them or think of them as being less of a person means people are less likely to ask for help.

The dementia journey can be incredibly isolating. When we talk openly about the disease and challenge preconceived notions, people living with dementia begin to feel like they aren’t alone and can ask for help. They can better prepare themselves for the challenges ahead. Communities play a key role in helping people living with dementia, their families and caregivers feel like they belong, just by being aware of the disease and actively engaged with learning more about it.

With over half a million Canadians currently living with dementia – a number that will only grow as the population ages – it has never been so important to be open to having a conversation about dementia. It’s never been so important to change the conversation.

RELATED: Jann Arden’s mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease, dies

Though Awareness Month is now over, you can still visit ilivewithdementia.ca. Find tips on how to be more dementia friendly, as well as resources to take action against stigma and be better informed about a disease that has the potential to affect every single one of us. You can also use the hashtag #ilivewithdementia to help spread the word.

We would like to thank our local staff and volunteers for their work. We also appreciate the local media’s coverage of dementia issues. The stories help foster a better understanding of the impact this disease has on local families and help the Alzheimer Society of B.C. work towards our goal of a dementia-friendly province.

If your family lives with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, please contact our regional Alzheimer Resource Centre at 250-382-2052 for information on support groups and the many other services we offer to assist you. You can also call the First Link® Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033 and visit www.alzheimerbc.org.

Gabriela Townsend

Support & Education Coordinator, First Link

Alzheimer Society of B.C.

Just Posted

Saanich intersections rank as Island’s three worst

Intersection of Admirals Road, McKenzie Avenue, and the Trans-Canada Highway had the most crashes

Peninsula youth clinic experiencing growing demand

Clinic seeing rising mental and cyber-health referrals

Value of building permits dropping in Greater Victoria

Victoria’s decline contrasts with provincial and national gains

Stories from the old Edge dairy farm on Panama Flats

Emily Carr once offered a painting to pay her dairy tab

Runners invited to get set for the 40th annual Goodlife Marathon

More than 9,000 runners expected to pack Victoria streets in October

VIDEO: Thousands enjoy Family Day fun in Saanich

Cedar Hill Recreation and Arts Centre hosts Family Arts Festival

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

Steelhead LNG stops work on Kwispaa LNG project near Bamfield

Huu-ay-aht First Nations ‘deeply disappointed; Steelhead says funding is the problem

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

‘Violent’ B.C. man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Prince George man with ties to Vernon sought by police

Homicide police investigate assault turned deadly in Surrey

60-year-old man died at hospital after assault

Most Read