Alzheimer Society continues campaign to end stigma around dementia. Here’s why that’s important

The Alzheimer Society of Canada is now in the third year of its awareness campaign, “I live with dementia. Let me help you understand”. Through this initiative, Canadians who are living with cognitive impairment are coming forward to share their stories of living with dementia in an effort to stop the stigma attached to the condition.

Here’s why this is important.

According to a survey, one-quarter of Canadians say they would feel ashamed or embarrassed if they had a form of dementia.

Yet, dementia is not a rare condition. According to the Alzheimer Society, there are more than half a million Canadians living with some form of dementia.

By 2031, the number is expected to grow to 937,000.

“The number of Canadians with dementia is soaring, so this is an extremely important campaign to pause and think about our attitudes and perceptions and build a more accepting and inclusive society for individuals and families living with dementia,” Alzheimer Society of Canada CEO Pauline Tardif says in a statement.

Dementia is not a condition that improves with time. While many people living with dementia accept this, what makes life difficult, they say, is the fact that they have to cope with negative stereotypes.

Those of us connected with the long-term care sector know the value of creating more understanding about dementia. We see the impact the condition has on many residents in our homes, but we also see that dementia does not define a person.

Providing Canadians living with dementia a forum to discuss their experiences helps put faces to a condition that for a long time people were not willing to talk about.

While we’re not at the point where Canadians are universally comfortable talking about dementia, we have come a distance. And the fact that Canadians living with dementia are increasingly sharing their experiences publicly is a testament to this.

You can learn more about the Alzheimer Society’s 2020 awareness campaign by visiting its website at ilivewithdementia.ca.