A resident with early-onset dementia is sharing her story. Here’s why that’s important

If you’ve been reading The OMNIway recently, you will know that we have been featuring stories profiling a Streamway Villa resident who is living with early-onset dementia.

“Sally” is a younger resident at the Cobourg long-term care home. She has requested we share her story because she wants others to know what living with cognitive impairment is like.

Her goal is for others to have a glimpse of what it is like to live with early-onset dementia and to understand how she feels about what she has lost and what fond memories she can recall.

Sally also describes the empathy she has for new Streamway Villa residents and how she understands their anxieties and fears.

She discusses the challenges of living in an environment where there is an age gap between her and other residents. She shares with us how she has lost many of her interests because of her condition. Sally opens up about how hard it is for her to no longer have her dog.

Sally is not looking for sympathy; she only wants us to understand how she feels.

Dementia is a condition that can change rapidly. Sally changes rapidly as her story unfolds. She wants us to see that, too.

There are many common misconceptions about dementia: that dementia is something only present in the elderly population, that it’s a normal part of aging, that people affected by the condition have completely lost their memory.

None of these things are true, but the stigma persists nevertheless.

Sally’s story is important because many people who are living with dementia do not want to talk about what it’s like to have the condition. Given the stigma attached to dementia, it’s easy to understand why.

But the more we talk about dementia, the more we will understand it. The more we understand dementia, the easier it will be to break its stigma.

By revealing her innermost thoughts and feelings about what it’s like to live with dementia, Sally is helping break the stigma. One story at a time.