How to stop the stigma of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?
- Understand and share the facts
- Be open and never be discouraged to speak out
- Stand against stigma
Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in Chicago can attest to the fact that both the illness and the symptoms come attached with stigma. Patients with dementia are people who need help rather than shaming; they deserve to be taken care of than ignored.
As Seth Rogen once said in his speech to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services,
Americans whisper the world Alzheimer’s’ because their government whispers the word Alzheimer’s’, and although a whisper is better than silence that the Alzheimer’s community has been facing for decades, it’s still not enough. It needs to be yelled and screamed to the point that it finally gets the attention and the funding that it deserves and needs.
So how do we stop the stigma? Patients, caregivers, family members, and friends alike should practice these tips to make the world a better place for those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Understand and share the facts
What mainly makes the stigma of mental illnesses is misconception. For one thing, most people thing dementia and Alzheimer’s are the same thing. The truth of the matter is that dementia is the symptom, often caused by Alzheimer’s disease. However it can also be caused by other disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Vascular dementia. In addition, the extent of dementia varies from person to person.
To stop the stigma over Alzheimer’s, people need to understand the facts: what really this illness is, its symptoms, conditions, stages, and even those risks that could lead to such illness. It also helps that you share articles about it through your social media accounts to spread awareness. More importantly, it’s important to spread awareness of how to recognize early signs of dementia and how to prevent it early on.
To understand someone who is affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s, one should also practice empathy. Whether you’re a home caregiver or a friend, listen. Listen to what the patient has to say and communicate with them as often as you can. Because the thing is, a dementia or an Alzheimer’s patient also needs someone to talk to, someone who’d listen to them. It may be easier to simply cast them off, but this does not help the patient.
As certain studies show, socialization helps reduce the symptoms of dementia.
Be open and never be discouraged to speak out
There are Alzheimer’s sufferers who have been living their lives without letting the people around them know that they are already suffering from such illness. This may be because they are unaware of what’s happening, or could be due to shame. Either way, elders and other people of all ages should be encouraged to speak about things that bother them, no matter how small. Everyone deserves someone to who’ll lend an ear for them to share their thoughts with.
Stand against stigma
Those who have loved ones such as family members or friends living with Alzheimer’s or dementia have a very powerful voice. You have the ability to raise much awareness because you know how it is, and how much it affects the lives of the patients and their families. You are of importance, and you have to know that.
Stigma has been an issue to any sort of mental illness for a while now, and it isn’t helping those who are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. People have to fight it, and to be able to do so ‘ it should start with great understanding and empathy. This way, the sufferers will never be afraid of talking about how they’re going through nor would they feel discriminated.
As Bob Demarco, the creator of Alzheimer’s Reading Room, wrote,
A lack of social stimulation is harmful for people living with dementia. It exaggerates the impact of the condition, can lead to depression and it encourages the person to withdraw into themselves.
Help fight stigma; spread dementia and Alzheimer’s awareness.