Content provided by the Alzheimer Society of Canada.
Stigma is one of biggest barriers for people with dementia to live fully with dignity and respect. That’s why during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month we’re kicking off a social awareness campaign – I live with dementia. Let me help you understand – to encourage Canadians to see dementia differently. And who better to help us understand dementia than people living with this disease. For example, Mary Beth.
“My diagnosis was six years ago, and what you might find interesting about my reaction to hearing the news is that I was actually relieved. That might sound odd, but the fact is, for two years prior to my diagnosis, I knew something was wrong. I saw many doctors and was prescribed many types of medication. So, when I finally received the diagnosis of probable frontotemporal dementia, I was like, OK, now we know. And now I can fight this thing.
As for the reactions of the people around me, it was basically shock. Predictably I suppose, they all said I was “too young” and that there must be a mistake. They all told me to get another opinion. That’s one of the most misunderstood elements of dementia; the idea that it’s just “old people” who get it. The disease is so misunderstood - even medical professionals sometimes don’t even know how to handle it. The first doctor who gave me the diagnosis certainly lacked compassion and was pretty matter-of-fact about it. I have this disease. There is no cure and it will continue to get worse. The average life expectancy is six to eight years. I was told to go home and get my affairs in order. And then the doctor said, “I need to take your driver’s license away immediately as you no longer have the necessary ability to drive.” I was never even tested to see if this was true! It simply should not have happened this way, but I felt helpless and vulnerable. There was never a proper process in place.”
Read more about Mary Beth and other inspiring stories at www.ilivewithdementia.ca
While there, check out our tips and other useful resources to help us end stigma. Test your knowledge about dementia and take our pledge to be dementia-friendly. And, use our hashtag #ilivewithdementia to spread the word. It’s time for understanding.
The Alzheimer Society of Canada is a proud partner of MedicAlert Foundation Canada. The Alzheimer Society is the leading nationwide health charity for people living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Active in communities across Canada, the Society offers a range programs and services as well as funds research to improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention, and to find a cure. For more information about the Society, visit: www.alzheimer.ca .
Do you or have a family member living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia? Learn more about the MedicAlert Safely Home ® program .