Penticton residents living with dementia are joining a nation-wide campaign to change the public’s perspective on the disease. The third annual, I live with dementia, let me help you understand, campaign offically launched today (Jan. 6). The initiative is being spearheaded by the Alzheimer’s Society of B.C.
The need to spread awareness and tackle the stigma around Alzheimer’s was identified after research found that one in four Canadians would feel ashamed of being being diagnosed with dementia.
Penticton resident, Sherri Adams said she became a spokeperson for the campaign after being diagnosed with dementia at 56.
“Some people have toruble accepting it because I’m only 56. They think it’s an old person’s thing. I have to explain that I’m not joking.”
At the time of her diagnosis, Adams had been providing caregiving services for her mother, Bev, who also has dementia.
“It meant that I understood a little about what was ahead of me,” said Adams.
According to Mary Beth Rutherford, Support and Education Coordinator at the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s South Okanagan and Similkameen resource centre, the goal of the campaign is to give a voice to Canadians with dementia who are frustrated by misinformation and day-to-day discrimination.
“Unless you have experienced it firsthand, it can be difficult to appreciate the damage stigma can do to individuals and families facing dementia,” said Rutherford.
As of today, the campaign has more than 65 spokespeople across the country.
More than half a million Canadians are currently living with dementia and that number is expected to double by 2032.
“The number of canadians living with dementia is soaring,” said Rutherford. “This is an extremely important campaign to pause and think about our attitudes and perceptions.”