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Alzheimer Society campaign tackles stigma of dementia

CHARLOTTETOWN – Imagine a close friend tells you she has dementia. Would you avoid her for fear of being embarrassed by what she might say or do? If you answered yes, you're not alone.

Premier Robert Ghiz signs the declaration document to proclaim the month of January 2013 as National Alzheimer Awareness Month in P.E.I. as Dr. Jackalina VanKampen, Alzheimer Society president, and Corrine Hendricken Eldershaw, CEO, look on.

According to a recent poll by Alzheimer’s Disease International, 40 per cent of people with dementia reported they had been avoided or treated differently after diagnosis. It’s no surprise, then, that one in four respondents cited stigma as a reason to conceal their diagnosis.

That’s why, this January during Alzheimer Awareness Month, the Alzheimer Society is launching a nation-wide campaign called “See Me, Not My disease. Let’s Talk About Dementia.”

The goal is to address myths about the disease, shift attitudes and make it easier to talk about dementia. Canadians are also invited to test their attitudes and perceptions in an online quiz at the P.E.I. society’s website —

The society says that stereotypes and misinformation are what prevent individuals with dementia from getting the help they need and stop others from taking the disease seriously. Dementia is more than having the occasional ‘senior moment’ or losing your keys, says the society. It’s a progressive degenerative brain disorder that affects each person differently.

It’s fatal and there is no cure.

“We are asking Health P.E.I. to answer the call for the implementation of our Provincial Dementia Strategy which was submitted in June 2011,” Corrine Hendricken-Eldershaw, CEO of the P.E.I. Alzheimer’s Society. “Education and supports from prevention to end of life care are key for the success of islanders living this journey. Ask your MLA if they are talking about dementia and being part of the solution. We need to act now.” 

Today, approximately 747,000 Canadians, including 2,300 Islanders, are living the journey of Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia. More than 71,000 of these individuals are under the age of 65. By 2038, the rising tide of dementia is expected to double, with a new diagnosis every two minutes.

“Knowledge removes much of the fear that paralyzes families who are affected by Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia,” says Jane MacIntyre, caregiver for her husband, Buddy, who is living the journey of dementia. “We always deal better with any situation that we understand.”

To learn more about the awareness campaign, visit  




—    Jan. 8 to 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Driving and Dementia, Discover KIA, 600 North River Rd., Charlottetown. Test drive a new Sorrento and for every test drive, KIA will donate $20 dollars to the Alzheimer Society who will be onsite to answer any questions about driving and dementia.

—    Jan. 10 at 7 p.m., P.E.I. Rocket Game for Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer Society representatives will be onsite to answer any questions about the disease or related dementias. This is ticket redemption night so anyone with extra tickets to share can pass them on the Alzheimer Society to give to a senior or family living with dementia. Puck drops at 7 p.m.

—    Jan. 16 from 10 3 p.m., ‘Heads Up’ Awareness Day. Knowledge exchange and an opportunity to ask questions at the Holiday Inn & Suites, Charlottetown. No admission cost. Includes lunch sponsored by Danny and Martie Murphy. Pre-registration is requested by noon on Jan. 15. Call Natalie at 370-3135 to register.

—    Jan. 21 to 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Driving & Dementia Event with Capital Honda, Charlottetown. Test drive a new Honda Civic and for every test drive, Honda will donate $20 dollars to the Alzheimer Society. 

—    Jan. 25, 7 to 10 p.m., Music for Memories Kitchen Party and Silent Auction at Rodd Charlottetown Hotel. Tickets can be purchased at the Alzheimer Society building.



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