Nelson residents with dementia break the silence on stigma in the Alzheimer Society campaign

Nelson residents living with dementia are released to change hearts and minds and to combat the continuing discrimination they experience in their daily lives.

“I think I could have shed a tear,” said Dawn Sutcliffe, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 60.

Having seen her father’s dementia journey, she knew what to expect. However, Dawn’s longtime friend Stephen Fraser was surprised. For five years, they had been looking for a specific diagnosis, thinking it was head trauma or severe ADHD.

Having been a talented digital artist for many years, Dawn has struggled with the changes and challenges of the disease.

Since Dawn’s diagnosis, they have sought the support of the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia. and were very open with the people around them. They found that many people they knew had their own personal connection.

“The conversations I had with people afterwards were fabulous. I was able to reconnect with old friends because of that,” says Dawn.

Dawn and Stephen are just two of the many Canadians who courageously move forward with their personal stories in the Alzheimer Society’s national campaign, I live with dementia. Let me help you understand. It was launched on Monday January 6 as part of Alzheimer’s awareness month.

Spurred by alarming research indicating that one in four Canadians would feel ashamed or embarrassed if they had dementia, the campaign gives voice to Canadians with dementia who are frustrated by the constant assumptions and misinformation associated with the disease.

“Unless you have experienced it, it can be difficult to appreciate the damage stigma can do to people and families living with dementia,” says Ruth Cordiner, Support and Advocacy Coordinator. for the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia. in the West Kootenay area.

“Too often, the negative feelings, attitudes and stereotypes surrounding dementia deter people from seeking help and discourage others from supporting them. By providing a platform for Canadians to share their stories, we can cultivate empathy and compassion and help break the stigma so that Canadians with dementia can live fully. “

Since the campaign theme was first used in 2018, more than 65 Canadians with dementia, including caregivers, have become advocates for the campaign, aimed at taking a stand against the stigma associated with sickness.

To read their stories and find out how you can help fight the stigma of dementia, visit ilivewithdementia.ca. The site also offers practical information and downloadable materials, including key myths and facts about the disease, as well as graphics on social media to help publicize the campaign. Site visitors can also contact the Alzheimer Society regional resource center for help and support.

With a wealth of programs, services, advocacy and public education, Alzheimer Societies across the country are there to help Canadians overcome the challenges of living with Alzheimer’s or another form. dementia. The Society also funds research to improve care and find new treatments and a cure.

Today, more than half a million Canadians live with dementia. Many others are family members who provide direct care or are otherwise affected by dementia. Over the next 12 years, almost a million Canadians will live with dementia.

“The number of Canadians with dementia is skyrocketing,” says Cordiner. “So this is an extremely important campaign to pause and reflect on our attitudes and perceptions and build a more accepting and inclusive society for people and families with dementia in Nelson and everywhere else in the West region.” Kootenay. “

Photo caption: Stephen Fraser and Dawn Sutcliffe of Nelson are just two of the many Canadians who have courageously come forward with their personal stories in the Alzheimer Society’s national campaign.

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