We just wrapped up Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in Canada. This meant that I was hearing more about the disease than usual. I think about Alzheimer’s on a regular basis because my mother has Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. She was diagnosed a few years ago and I have thought about her and it every day since. During this month the New Brunswick Alzheimer’s Society was posting some fantastic information about the disease on Facebook.
There’s a lot of stigma attached to Alzheimer’s and other dementias. People don’t know how to react to people with the disease. Especially when it’s someone young.
The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada has a wealth of information on their website to help people understand and cope with Alzheimer’s for both the diagnosed and their family/caregivers. Check out their Shared Experiences booklet full of real advice from people living with Alzheimer’s in the early stages.
Here is some of the fantastic advice I have read over the last month from the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick’s Facebook Page.
1) Did you know that a diagnosis of dementia doesn’t mean you have to stop working immediately, or that you’re incapable of doing your job? If you know someone at work who has recently been diagnosed, talk to her to find out how you can be supportive.
2) Avoid making assumptions about the people living with Alzheimer’s in your life. It affects everyone differently and progression varies from person to person. Abilities may change, but they still can live meaningfully.
3) Today, consider participating in a service club, volunteering or joining a hobby group. Taking part in any social activity can help lower your risk of dementia and keep your brain sharp.
4) Remember to see the person, not the disease! Focus on what people with dementia can do, not what they can’t.
5) People with dementia often tell us that their friends or families avoid speaking to them directly or talk around them. This is hurtful! Address the person directly in conversation. If the person is in the later stages of the disease and has difficulty answering, ask his family member for advice.
6) Remember to check out our Test Your Attitude Towards Dementia quiz! It offers 6 different scenarios and asks, “How you would handle the situation?” Find out where you stand, it may not be where you think!
7) Staying socially active is important to everyone’s well-being. But remember that people with dementia may need your help to stay connected to family and friends.
8) A diagnosis of dementia doesn’t mean you can’t do the things you enjoy. People with dementia can continue to live meaningful active lives, within their changing capabilities.
9) Recall a funny story you shared with someone important to you and laugh together. People with dementia need laughter in their lives and it’s important to enjoy the moment.
10) Change someone’s attitude about dementia today. Check out some of these commonly asked questions and share with a friend. Remember information is a powerful gift.
11) Keep talking. The easiest way to break the stereotypes and misinformation about dementia is to speak up! And if you’re living with dementia, talking about it will help you deal with the disease in positive ways.
12) Both caregivers and people living with dementia often feel guilt, grief and anger. But you’re not alone. Your local Alzheimer Society can help.
13) Remember dementia also affects children and teens who may not understand what’s happening to a family member. Check out the helpful tips, games and other resources found here:
14) Women make up three quarters of Canadians living with Alzheimer’s disease today, and are also at a greater risk of developing the disease. Take a moment today to enjoy a chat with a woman in your life, whether it be your mom, sister, daughter, wife or friend.
15) Dementia is the 7th leading cause of death in Canada and the only disease in the top 10 that has no effective treatment or cure. Read about the latest promising research across Canada funded by the Alzheimer Society Research Program.
16) Do you have a friend or relative living with dementia? Visit or call them today, or make plans to do something they enjoy. Enjoying activities with friends slows the progression of the disease and shows you care.
17) Take a moment to check out our new publication “All About Me”. It allows people with dementia to record their personal history and what is important to them.
Lets spread awareness and end the Stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementias! Do you know someone with Alzheimer’s?