Letter to the editor
Alzheimer's Society of BK thanked the people of Eastern Kutenai for their encouraging response to the annual Alzheimer's Month in January and our campaign to challenge stigma around the disease: "Yes. I live with dementia. Let me help you understand.
The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences recently published a report by dementia experts highlighting the priorities for a national dementia strategy, the work done by the Canada Public Health Agency in 2018. The authors emphasize the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle that can prevent or slow down dementia, and overcome stigma and fear of living with dementia. They stressed that it is possible to live well with the disease.
Increasingly, when we talk about raising awareness about Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, we must talk about a challenging stigma. Negative attitudes to the disease mean that when someone begins to suspect that they – or someone close – may have dementia, they are less likely to seek a diagnosis. They are less likely to reveal their situation to others. Worried that someone will judge them or think of them as less than a person, people are less inclined to ask for help.
Traveling with dementia can be extremely isolated. When talking openly about the disease and provoking prejudices, people living with dementia begin to feel as if they are not alone and can ask for help. They can better prepare for the upcoming challenges. Communities play a key role in helping people living with dementia, their families and their carers feel that they belong, simply by being aware of the disease and being actively engaged in learning more about it.
With more than half a million Canadians who are currently living with dementia, a number that will only grow with the age of the population, it has never been so important to be open to talk about dementia. It has never been so important to change the conversation.
Although the Awareness Month is over, you can still visit ilivewithdementia.ca. Find tips on how to be more affiliated with dementia and resources to take action against stigma and be better informed about a disease that has the potential to affect each of us. You can also use the #ilivewithdementia hash to help spread the word.
We would like to thank our local staff and volunteers for their work. We also appreciate the coverage of local media on dementia issues. Stories help to better understand the impact this disease has on local families and help the Alzheimer's Society of BC. we are working to achieve our goal of a province favorable to dementia.
If your family lives with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, please call the first dementia line on 1-800-936-6033 and visit www.alzheimerbc.org.
Mary Beth Rutherford,
Support and Education Coordinator, First Link,
Alzheimer's Society of BK