Alzheimer Society of Windsor-Essex Aims To Reduce Stigma

The Alzheimer Society of Windsor-Essex is trying to raise awareness and reduce stigma about the disease.

It's part of a national campaign which kicked off Monday for Alzheimer's Awareness Month.

Society CEO Sally Bennett Olczak says the goal is to reduce social isolation and uncomfortable conversations.

Based on a survey of 1,500 Canadians, it found 46% of them would feel ashamed or embarrassed if they had dementia.

Bennett Olczak says there should be no shame attached to the disease.

"A person is not their diagnoses, they are a person who has dementia but they can continue to have many years of a fulfilling and active life in our community and a meaningful life," she explains. "Dementia is a situation where a person's brain ultimately is not working as it once worked and that for all of us as fellow human beings can be a scary experience, if we learn that progression of the disease more often is slow rather than fast."

She says the negative stigma is one of the biggest barriers for people with dementia.

"We have come a long way in the alzheimer movement over the last 40 years or so, but really that is just a generation or a generation and a half, clearly we have a long ways to go to develop compassion and empathy to understand the disease process."

More than 7,120 people in Windsor-Essex are living with dementia.

People living with dementia and their stories are featured on a dedicated website at www.ilivewithdementia.ca