September 2013 is the 3rd Annual World Alzheimer’s Month, a month long campaign to raise awareness and understanding of Alzheimer’s disease culminating in Alzheimer’s Action Day on September 21. The theme for this year is “Dementia: A Journey of Caring.” The focus this year is on reducing the stigma that often accompanies Alzheimer’s and on raising awareness of what can be done to make communities more dementia-friendly.
The National Alzheimer’s Association Early-Stage Advisory Group has five tips on how to help overcome the stigma that is often associated with dementia:
- Be open and direct. Talk with others about Alzheimer’s and what your experience is with it. Let them know the facts about the disease and about the need for raising awareness and funding new and improved research.
- Communicate the facts. Make sure that you know what you’re talking about. If your knowledge of facts is shaky, download brochures from the Alzheimer’s Association and pass those out to interested parties.
- Seeksupport and stay connected. Keeping involved with others is crucial.
- Don’t be discouraged. People may be uncomfortable talking about Alzheimer’s. Do your best to help them learn and accept that it may be difficult for some people to hear.
- Be a part of the solution. Nothing will change unless people take an active role. Involve yourself in the process of change.
Alzheimer’s organizations are still in the process of coming up with a plan that defines exactly what a community can do to be considered dementia-friendly, but the Alzheimer’s Society of the United Kingdom says this:
It is envisaged that a dementia-friendly community is one that shows a high level of public awareness and understanding so that people with dementia and their carers are encouraged to seek help and are supported by their community. Such communities are more inclusive of people with dementia, and improve their ability to remain independent and have choice and control over their lives.
Awareness of Alzheimer’s has risen significantly over the last decade, but there is still a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding the disorder. September is a wonderful time to help set the record straight and strike a blow for all those affected by dementia.