Faces of dementia include families, friends

The faces of dementia are individuals who are living with the disease. They are also the families and friends caring for a loved one on the journey. They are researchers who are working hard to find a cure. They are advocates who want to see improved dementia care in our province. They are also donors, leaders, and volunteers supporting a vision of a world without dementia.

Families on the dementia journey need support to face the realities and consequences of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Today, people are being diagnosed at a much younger age, as early as in their 40's and 50's, and the incidence of the disease is increasing with our aging population.

The recent World Alzheimer Report 2011 indicates there is a treatment gap, that early interventions are beneficial but that sadly very few people are getting an early diagnosis. This means persons with dementia and their families cannot access beneficial treatments and support that they need.

This means they are on the dementia journey alone. We can't let that happen to our loved ones, our friends, our colleagues and our community neighbours.

This heartbreaking illness impacts everyone and it will take working together to turn the rising tide of dementia.

Currently in six communities across B.C., the Ministry of Health and regional health authorities have partnered with the Society to reach out to doctors and other health professionals to increase opportunities for early diagnosis and early interventions.

Research gives us hope to know the causes and find a cure so that one day we will prevent the disease from taking hold of individual lives and families.

But until we win the fight against the second most feared disease among Canadian baby boomers, alleviating the personal and social consequences of the disease will be a core priority. It has to be.

We all have a role in turning the rising tide of dementia. Challenge your stereotypes about people with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia. Educate yourself about the warning signs if not for yourself then for a loved one. If nothing else, talk about it with your family because breaking down the barriers of stigma associated with the disease can foster greater understanding about the disease and how it impacts us all.

Visit www.facesofdementia.cato read profile stories of British Columbians on the dementia journey, participate in our first social media campaign, and find out how you can be part of the wave of change to turn the rising tide of dementia. Or go to www.alzheimerbc.orgfor information about upcoming education, local support services, and latest news related to dementia.

JEAN BLAKE

CEO, Alzheimer Society of B.C.

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