Opinion: Dementia a pressing, and growing, concern

Meriel Randerson is the Support and Education Coordinator, Alzheimer Society of BC, Greater Victoria

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. thanks the people of Oak Bay for their encouraging response to January’s annual Alzheimer Awareness Month and to our new social awareness campaign, “I live with dementia. Let me help you understand.”

Our campaign aims to spark conversations and encourage residents to see dementia differently. Stigma significantly affects the well-being of local people living with dementia. In order to build a dementia-friendly society, we need to move away from fear and denial of the disease, towards awareness and understanding.

This is a very pressing health issue for our aging population. Families across British Columbia are affected by Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Today, more than half a million Canadians have dementia and that number is expected to nearly double in the next 15 years.

Though Awareness Month is now over, you can still visit ilivewithdementia.ca. Find tips on how to be more dementia friendly, as well as resources to take action against stigma and be better informed about a disease that has the potential to affect every single one of us. You can also use the hashtag #ilivewithdementia to help spread the word.

We would like to thank our local staff and volunteers for their work. We also appreciate the Oak Bay media’s coverage of dementia issues. The stories help foster a better understanding of the impact this disease has on local families.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s ultimate vision is a world without dementia; that vision begins with a world where people living with the disease are welcomed, acknowledged and included. Working in communities throughout the province, we support, educate and advocate for people with dementia, as well as enabling research into the disease. We are part of a national federation, a leading authority on the disease in Canada.

If your family lives with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, please contact our regional Alzheimer Resource Centre at 250-382-2052 or info.victoria@alzheimerbc.org for information on support groups and the many other services we offer to assist you. You can also call the First Link® Dementia Hotline at 1-800-936-6033 and visit www.alzheimerbc.org.

Meriel Randerson is the Support and Education Coordinator for the Alzheimer Society of B.C., Greater Victoria.

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