Changing the Misconceptions of Dementia
By: Bruce Wray, Communications Manager
For London’s Ron Robert, the day he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s was the day he also lost his driver’s licence. His doctor offered minimal information or counselling to support the unwelcome news. And while this isn’t always the situation with physicians, it also isn’t unusual. As Ron recalled, when he left the appointment he felt “instantly, not who I was before”. Family doctors who aren’t fully aware of the implications of this disease will sometimes present the diagnosis as a death sentence; where a person should immediately ‘get their affairs in order’ and that the automatic and first order of business is to pull an individual’s driver’s licence. If a physician sometimes takes that attitude, it is easy to imagine how the stigma of dementia is one that is tough to break in the public’s eyes.
Stigma and misconceptions of dementia are the main theme of this year’s National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. In fact, Ron Roberts has become the one of the faces of the campaign. The campaign’s goal is to shine a light on the facts about people living with dementia; to challenge misconceptions and to bring understanding to the condition. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another dementia doesn’t signal the immediate end of a life. More accurately it means a life where changes over time, in stages, will happen. And with this more accurate description of dementia it brings to light that there is still a life to be lived, dreams to pursue and people to love. To learn more about dementia, how to dispel the misconceptions that still linger and to hear stories from a lived experience perspective, including Ron’s, visit our website dedicated to this year’s awareness campaign: ilivewithdementia.ca.
You can commemorate Alzheimer’s Awareness Month as well as support the mission of the Alzheimer Society by attending the 26th edition of the Cabin Fever Reliever Dinner and Auction, Saturday, February 2nd. Cabin Fever is one of our signature fundraising events of the year and is essential for our organization as we provide support and counselling to our ever-expanding client base.