January is Alzheimer’s Awareness month and this week the Alzheimer Society of BC is trying to raise awareness about dementia.
An online survey of 1500 Canadians found 46 per cent of respondents would feel ashamed or embarrassed if they had dementia.
The Society’s Support and Education Coordinator, Carly Gronlund says when you look at other illnesses, people would never say that.
“And so that fear and stigma that’s coming from a lack of understanding and a lack of information about the disease right there is stopping people from reaching out and getting help because they might feel ashamed.”
The survey also suggested 1 in 4 people believe their friends and family would avoid them if they were diagnosed with dementia.
Gronlund says opening up a conversation is important.
“And really trying to just educate the public about what the realities of this illness are and hopefully reduce some fear and stigma. Everybody who is on the journey we call the dementia journey are just regular people.”
She says in her work, having people come in and talk and learn and connect with others in a similar situation can be life changing.
” I definitely notice an improvement in how individuals and families manage after they receive support and information. That ios so key to maintaining quality of life and living the best lives that we can.”
More information is available on the website ilivewithdementia.ca.
The Alzheimer Society also urges people use the hashtag #ilivewithdementia to help spread the word.
More than half a million Canadians live with dementia.
There are almost 100 different types of progressive, irreversible dementia, though most are very rare.
In less than 15 years, an estimated 937 thousand Canadians will have dementia.
The Alzheimer Society at www.alzheimerbc.org provides programs and support services for people with dementia and their caregivers.