Alzheimer’s has historically carried a stigma along with the diagnosis. It’s something that has been whispered about and avoided, but as the numbers of people being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s increases the collective voice is getting stronger and rising up against this stigma.
Alzheimer’s is a disease, but it is not an identity.
January is Alzheimer’s awareness month, and the Alzheimer’s Society is running a campaign called “See me, not my disease”.
They offer these practical ways that you can help make a difference:
• Learn the facts. Share your knowledge about dementia with others, including family and friends, especially if you hear something that isn’t true. Talking about dementia lessens our fear and increases understanding.
• Don’t make assumptions. Dementia is a progressive disease and affects each person differently. A
diagnosis doesn’t mean the person will have to stop his daily routine or give up working right away.
• Watch your language. Do you use statements like “she’s losing her marbles,” or “he has old-timer’s
disease?”Don’t make light of dementia. We don’t tolerate racial jokes, yet dementia jokes are common.
• Treat people with dementia with respect and dignity. A person’s ability to do things we take for granted will change as the disease progresses. But no matter what stage of the disease, she’s still the person she always was, with unique abilities and needs. Appreciate who she is. Don’t talk around her or avoid her at family and social gatherings.
• Be a friend. People with dementia don’t want to lose their friends nor do they want to stop doing activities they enjoy. Be supportive. Stay in touch and connected. Social activity helps slow the progression of the disease and lets people with dementia know you care.
• Speak up! Don’t stand for media stereotypes that perpetuate stigma and myths. Call or write your local radio or television station or newspaper. Media is a powerful force in affecting how we act and think.
Want to learn more about Alzheimer’s? Check out this link: http://www.alzheimer.ca/