51% of Canadians admit to using stigmatizing language about dementia, such as telling dementia-related jokes or referring to someone as senile, crazy or demented. Here are six easy ways you can make a difference and help reduce dementia stigma:
1. Learn the Facts.
Share your knowledge about dementia with others, including family and friends, especially if you hear something that isn’t true. Talking about dementia lessens our fear and increases understanding.
2. Don’t make assumptions.
Dementia is a progressive disease and affects each person differently. A diagnosis doesn’t mean the person will have to stop their daily routine or give up working right away.
3. Watch your language.
Do you use statements like, "she’s losing her marbles," or, "he has old-timer’s disease?" Don’t make light of dementia. We don’t tolerate racial jokes, yet dementia jokes remain common.
4. Treat people with dementia with respect and dignity.
A person’s ability to do things we take for granted will change as the disease progresses. But no matter what stage of the disease, they are still the person they always were, with unique abilities and needs.
5. Be a friend.
People with dementia don’t want to lose their friends, nor do they want to stop doing activities they enjoy. Be supportive. Stay in touch and connected. Social activity helps slow the progression of the disease and lets people with dementia know you care.
6. Speak up!
Don’t stand for media stereotypes that perpetuate stigma and myths. Call or write your local radio or television station or newspaper. Share your stories on social media. Media is a powerful force in affecting how we act and think.
For more tips, visit livewithdementia.ca.
Source: Alzheimer Society, Alzheimer’s Awareness Month 2019 Campaign Toolkit