Across the country, thousands of Canadians are standing up to say, ‘Yes. I live with dementia. Let me help you understand.’

6 myths people still believe about dementia

This Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, challenge the myths and stigma about dementia

January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month across Canada. It’s an important time to talk about the stigma experienced by people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and to challenge the myths and misconceptions about the disease. Myths about dementia stand in the way of understanding the disease and supporting people affected by it. Below are some common myths about dementia.

Myth #1: If I’m diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it means my life is over.

Reality: If you or someone you know is diagnosed with the disease, you can live meaningfully and actively for many years. Eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, staying socially connected and doing things that challenge your brain also help slow disease progression.

Myth #2: My mother had Alzheimer’s disease, so I’m going to get it too.

Reality: Familial dementia accounts for less than five per cent of all cases.

Myth #3: Dementia is an old person’s disease.

Reality: Dementia is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain. It most often occurs in people over 65, but can affect people in their forties and fifties.

Myth #4: Memory loss means Alzheimer’s disease.

Reality: Not necessarily. You may experience trouble with your memory as you age. However, if memory loss affects your day-to-day ability to function, communicate or is accompanied by a decrease in judgment or reasoning ability, it’s best to see your doctor immediately.

Myth #5: Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented.

Reality: No single treatment can prevent Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. You can reduce your risk by exercising your mind and body, eating a heart-healthy diet, reducing stress and staying socially active.

Myth #6: There’s a cure for dementia.

Reality: Dementia remains incurable. However, seeking an early diagnosis from a health-care provider and connecting to support and education from the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s First Link dementia support can positively affect a person’s experience of the dementia journey.

Challenging stigma and misconceptions are key to building a dementia-friendly province, where people affected by the disease are acknowledged, welcomed and supported. This month, and beyond, challenge people’s misconceptions about dementia when you encounter them. Learn more about the national campaign to address the stigma of dementia – and meet people who are living with dementia – at www.ilivewithdementia.ca.

If you have questions about Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or concerns about memory loss, visit the Alzheimer Society of B.C. website, or call the First Link Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033.

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People who connect to the Alzheimer Society of B.C. can access support and education across the province, including support groups both for people in the early stages of dementia and for caregivers.

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