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Alzheimer Awareness Month challenges attitudes about dementia

Stigma associated with dementia ‘is rampant,’ says the Alzheimer’s Society

Stigma associated with dementia “is rampant,” says the Alzheimer’s Society, meaning that the conversation needs to change.

The awareness that people live with dementia and that life goes on is a premise of the Alzheimer Society’s nationwide campaign, according to a press release.

Alzheimer’s Awareness Month started Jan. 7 and its aim has been to change attitudes toward the disease.

“We’re turning the conversation over to the experts,” said Jane Hope, support and education coordinator at the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s north and central Vancouver Island resource centre, in the release. “We believe sharing the stories of Canadians living with dementia will fuel a more open, supportive and inclusive dialogue about dementia and give confidence to others who have this disease to live their best lives.”

In a survey commissioned by the Alzheimer Society last year, one in five Canadians said they would feel ashamed or embarrassed if they had dementia and one in five had used derogatory or stigmatizing language about dementia.

For more information, visit http://ilivewithdementia.ca.

According to Island Health, one of the best sources of information about dementia is connecting with other family caregivers, who can share their experiences and advice.

Island Health, with support from the Alzheimer Society of B.C., created a video series called Sharing the Journey which combines advice from caregivers and medical professionals with dramatizations that demonstrate common challenges and solutions.

“Caregivers said ‘Show us what to do, don’t just tell us,’” said Sandra Somers, a recently retired seniors’ health nurse with Island Health.

The Victoria Hospitals Foundation provided $80,000 to support the project. The videos can be viewed at www.IslandHealth.ca/dementia-videos.

For a special advertising feature on Alzheimer Awareness Month from the News Bulletin’s Jan. 24 issue, click here.

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