Campaign targets stigma of dementia

Press Release

The Alzheimer Society of Kenora/Rainy River Districts announced Jan. 8 that while awareness about dementia has increased, stigma and negative attitudes around it continue to persist.
It is releasing findings of a new survey to coincide with Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in January, as well as to kick off its new social awareness campaign–“I live with dementia. Let me help you understand”–to spark conversations and encourage Canadians to see dementia differently.
The Leger-led survey, which questioned 1,500 Canadians aged 18-65 online, also reveals 46 percent of respondents would feel ashamed or embarrassed if they had dementia while 61 percent of those surveyed said they would face discrimination of some kind.
The survey also shows one-in-four Canadians believe their friends and family would avoid them if they were diagnosed with dementia.
And only five percent of Canadians would learn more about dementia if a family member, friend, or co-worker were diagnosed.
“We need to face our fear a moment’s forgetfulness will lead us to irreversible dementia,” said Rossana Tomashowski, executive director of the local Alzheimer Society.
“That’s not true,” she stressed.
“Because dementia is caused by the degeneration of neurons and disease of small vessels in the brain, there are things you can do to avoid or slow it down,” Tomashowski noted.
“Make a point to protect your brain, be physically and socially active.”
Tomashowski said it is the hippocampus part of the brain that produces new neurons to make your brain work better when blood is flowing.
The three stages over the course of the disease:
•mild, when you forget things as how to get home;
•moderate, when you become anxious and depressed about the signs that you cannot do what comes easily as before; and
•severe, when you become reliant on other people for your daily care.
“Caring for someone with dementia is challenging,” said Tomashowski. “That’s why our ‘First Link’ is the Alzheimer first contact program.
“If you want to learn about Alzheimer or related dementias, we are here for you.
“We have support groups [and] education sessions that guide you every step of your own unique journey,” she added.
“Knowing what to do and expect can reduce stress by participating in our various programs suited to your needs.”
To tackle stigma, the Alzheimer Society is bringing awareness all month long.
One of the many events in the community for Alzheimer Awareness Month is its “Coffee Break” happening in the district.
Simply buy a coffee or make a donation.
There also are the annual dinners being held in Rainy River and Fort Frances, as well as the “Finding Your Way” identification kit clinics.
As well, there will be a 50/50 cash draw on Jan. 29 (get your tickets while they last).
Meanwhile, board president Don Denver and our caregivers invite you and Canadians to hear their inspiring stories, and take a few pointers from them on how to be open and accepting towards people with dementia.
To help stop stigma and read the full survey, visit ilivewithdementia.ca–and use the hashtag #ilivewithdementia to help spread the word.
Today, more than half-a-million Canadians have dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease).
In less than 15 years, an estimated 937,000 Canadians will have dementia
Alzheimer Societies across Canada provide programs and support services for people with all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, and their caregivers.
The Alzheimer Society is a leading Canadian funder of dementia research.
It has invested, to date, more than $50 million in bio-medical and quality-of-life research through the Alzheimer Society Research Program.