World Alzheimer’s Month: Raise Awareness and Challenge the Stigma

World Alzheimer's MonthDementia is a collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes that affect memory, thinking, behavior and emotion. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type, affecting up to 90% of people living with dementia. Other types include vascular, Lewy bodies and frontal-temporal dementia.
World Alzheimer’s Month is the international campaign held every September by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia. World Alzheimer’s Day is on September 21st. Two out of every three people globally believe there is little or no understanding of dementia in their countries. The impact of World Alzheimer’s Month is growing, but the stigmatization and misinformation that surrounds dementia remains a global problem requiring global action. World Alzheimer’s Month seeks to unite opinion leaders, people with dementia, caregivers and family, medical professionals, researchers and the media from all around the world. More information about the campaign can be found at https://www.worldalzmonth.org/ .
Raising Awareness
Dakota Home Care is committed to supporting the goals of World Alzheimer’s Month. We respectfully provide specialized care for clients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We work with the local Alzheimer’s Association for education and training and facilitate home consults with their specialists. We provide in-house, online and hands-on training for caregivers. Through our blog, we also raise awareness about dementia and caring for those who have it. You can learn more about these 10 related topics by clicking on the links:

Challenging the Stigma
The Oxford dictionary definition of stigma is “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.” The Collins dictionary states “If something has a stigma attached to it, people think it is something to be ashamed of.” 
How to deal with the stigma associated with the disease is often a primary concern of people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. The myths and misconceptions, the lack of public awareness and understanding, and the use negative labels to identify a person with dementia all contribute to the stigma.
Stigma can prevent people from:

  • Seeking medical treatment
  • Receiving an early diagnosis
  • Living the best quality of life possible
  • Making plans for their future
  • Benefitting from available treatments
  • Developing a support system
  • Participating in clinical trials
  • Contributing to disease research

Experiencing Alzheimer’s stigma
Stigma and stereotypes are a significant obstacle to well-being and quality of life for those with dementia and their families. Here are some examples of the stigma those living with dementia may experience:

  • Friends may refuse to believe your diagnosis or withdraw from your life.
  • Family members may not want to talk about the disease, or may avoid interacting with you.
  • Others may approach your care partner, rather than asking you directly how you are doing.
  • Associates may not understand all of the things you are still able to do.

Five tips to overcome Alzheimer’s stigma
The following tips are based on the experience of members of the Alzheimer’s Association National Early-Stage Advisory Group, which consists of individuals in the early stage of the disease who help raise awareness about the disease. If you are the caregiver, practice these tips and share them with your loved one who has the disease:

  1. Be open and direct. Engage others in discussions about Alzheimer’s disease and the need for prevention, better treatment and an eventual cure. Engage with others like you.
  2. Communicate the facts. Sharing accurate information is key to correcting misconceptions about the disease. Offer information to help people better understand Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Seek support and stay connected. Stay engaged in meaningful relationships and activities. Whether family, friends or a support group, a network is critical.
  4. Don’t be discouraged. Denial of the disease by others is not a reflection of you. If people think that Alzheimer’s disease is normal aging, see it as an education opportunity. Click here for some tips for helping family and friends adjust to your diagnosis.
  5. Be a part of the solution. As an individual living with the disease, yours is the most powerful voice to help raise awareness, end stigma, and advocate for more Alzheimer’s support and research.

World Alzheimer’s Month can serve as an incentive to all of us to acquire more information about Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia and a reminder to not contribute to the stigma felt by those who live with it. At Dakota Home Care, these are our goals all year long.

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