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Will You Become A Dementia Friend?

July 30, 2015

By Editor
There has been a lot of media attention about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias lately.  It goes to show just how many million lives dementia touches. It also goes to show that slowly, dementia is being talked about openly. While campaigns from local and regional Alzheimer Societies have helped bring dementia into the spotlight, to truly help people living with dementia get the care and support they are entitled to, we need a response from the collective society.

To help encourage more individuals to support those with dementia, the Federal Government and the Alzheimer Society of Canada has launched Dementia Friends Canada. Dementia Friends is a national initiative aimed at improving awareness and understanding of dementia. The program aims to educate Canadians on what it means to live with dementia and how to better support those with dementia within the community.  With more awareness and understanding, the goal is to overcome stereotypes and dispel the stigma attached to the disease.

A dedicated website, http://www.dementiafriends.ca, has been developed as an informational and educational platform. The site provides information for individuals promoting empathy and understanding as well as tools to raise awareness in the workplace where dementia challenges are now more common due to the aging workforce. Suggestions for dealing with those challenges, posters and even targeted emails are offered in a specially designed workplace toolkit available on the site.

Also on the site, Canadian actor Eric Peterson is featured in a compelling and sometimes raw video that illustrates what dementia is and how people can better communicate with someone with the disease. The Dementia Friends Canada program has a goal of recruiting one million Canadians as dementia friends who will learn more about the disease and to raise awareness on how to help those living with dementia in their community.
Dementia currently affects about 15 percent of Canadians 65 and older. Additionally, between 2 % and 10 % of all cases of dementia start before the age of 65. By 2031, if nothing changes in Canada, the total number of individuals diagnosed with dementia is expected to increase to 1.4 million from the current level of  747,000 Canadians.

The Dementia Friends Canada joint program is the biggest awareness campaign the national office of the Alzheimer Society has ever launched to tackle stigma. It is based on similar initiatives in the United Kingdom and Japan.

By working together to help tackle dementia, we can ensure that people with dementia are offered the support they need to continue to live fulfilling lives. Anyone can be a Dementia Friend. If you haven’t already registered to be a Friend, you can do so online at http://www.dementiafriends.ca. If you already are a Dementia Friend, thank you.