January is Alzheimer Awareness Month. The aim is to help people live well with dementia. (submitted)

Alzheimer awareness campaign aims to build support, understanding

January is national Alzheimer Awareness Month.

Cowichan Valley residents are being asked to join a national awareness campaign to challenge public perceptions of what it means to live with dementia.

January is national Alzheimer Awareness Month. The 2018 campaign aims to convert judgment into compassion and assumptions into understanding so that people with dementia feel supported in the local community.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is releasing findings of a new survey to help kick off its new social awareness campaign — I live with dementia. Let me help you understand — to spark conversations and encourage the Cowichan Valley residents to see dementia differently.

“Stigma significantly affects the well-being of people living with dementia,” says Jane Hope, support and education coordinator for the Alzheimer Society of B.C. for the Cowichan Valley and North/Central Vancouver Island. “In order to build a dementia-friendly society, we need to move away from fear and denial of the disease, towards awareness and understanding.”

To tackle stigma, the Alzheimer Society is letting the experts — people affected by dementia — do the talking. One of these experts is Cindy Player of Victoria. Cindy has experienced stigma from people when they’ve learned about her diagnosis.

“I feel better when I’m honest,” Cindy said. “In spite of the risks, there’s a benefit for me in being open about living with dementia.”

Cindy and others invite the Cowichan Valley residents to hear their inspiring stories and take a few pointers from them on how to be open and accepting towards people living with dementia.

Their stories are featured on a dedicated campaign website, where visitors will also find tips on how to be more dementia friendly, activities to test their knowledge, and other resources to take action against stigma and be better informed about a disease that has the potential to affect every single one of us.

To help stop stigma and read the full survey, visit ilivewithdementia.ca – and use the hashtag #ilivewithdementia to help spread the word.

Dementia is one of the country’s most pressing health issues. The Society offers a variety of assistance to area families and other caregivers, such as the First Link Dementia Helpline. It can be reached at 1-800-936-6033.

The regional Alzheimer Resource Centre can connect residents to support groups, including ones that can be accessed by telephone, educational seminars and workshops, and programs that help people live well with dementia.

The Society also provides useful resources for health care professionals.

For more information visit www.alzheimerbc.org.

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