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Shining a Light on Alzheimer's: The Importance of Alzheimer's Awareness

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects the elderly population. It is characterized by the gradual loss of memory, cognitive abilities, and the ability to perform everyday tasks.

January is Alzheimer’s Awareness month, a time to shine a spotlight on a condition that affects over 700,000 Canadians. Alzheimer Calgary’s Still Me social movement empowers connections and community.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects the elderly population. It is characterized by the gradual loss of memory, cognitive abilities, and the ability to perform everyday tasks. The disease is associated with the formation of plaques and tangles in the brain, which disrupt normal brain function. These changes in the brain lead to symptoms such as confusion, mood swings, difficulty speaking, and memory loss.

It is clear that dementia is a topic on the minds of most Canadians. According to Janet Brown Opinion Research, 57% of people in Calgary and area fear dementia more than other diseases, and more than 50% have a close friend or family member affected by Alzheimer’s. There is a lot of fear – and misinformation – about the topic.

Locally, Alzheimer Calgary is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families impacted by Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. They are building a social movement called Still Me.

There are several ways to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Thinking of physical activity as "movement" or "activity" rather than exercise can make it more approachable. Trying new classes and planning activities with a friend can also be beneficial. Prioritizing quality sleep, following a healthy diet, making social connections, reducing stress, and getting regular exercise are all actions that can reduce the risk of dementia.

Barb Ferguson, Executive Director, says, “Alzheimer Calgary’s Still Me campaign is about building a social movement. Through our public awareness initiatives like our Still Me campaign, our goal is to shift current perceptions and attitudes about dementia and, ultimately, reduce the stigma.”

The goals of Still Me are to:

  • Stamp out myths and stereotypes: Challenge misconceptions and stereotypes about dementia, raising awareness and promoting accurate understanding.
  • Increase understanding of dementia: Educate individuals about dementia, its impact, and how to support those living with it.
  • Open hearts and minds, shaping new perceptions: Create empathy and understanding, fostering a more compassionate and inclusive society for people with dementia.
  • Spark a groundswell of support: inspire widespread support for individuals impacted by dementia, encouraging everyone to contribute to positive change.
  • Elevate the voices of people impacted by dementia: Amplify their voices to empower and inform others.
  • Create a more open and inclusive community: Create an environment where people can discuss dementia openly and without judgment.

Still Me provides education and awareness for caregivers, friends, and family of people with dementia. Not all individuals with dementia can express themselves as they would like, but they still remain the same person inside. It is unfair to blame them for the changes. Instead, change your approach by improving communication, relating to them better, refocusing their attention, and bringing out their strengths. Spending quality time together and focusing on what truly matters can make a significant difference.

Story sharing is also a large part of the Still Me campaign. Visit the platform to learn about Marilyn, a former Ms. Clause and competitive sharpshooter; Aimee, who is caring for her aging father by supporting him with companionship, brain-boosting games, and help with his daily chores; Lisa Poole, an advocate and community champion who sits on boards and volunteers in support of the cause; and more.

“We encourage people to visit to learn more about dementia and some of the myths surrounding this condition, share your story, and learn about ways people can reduce their risk,” says Ferguson.

During Alzheimer's Awareness month, it is essential to recognize the impact of this disease and the importance of raising awareness. Engaging with the StillMe campaign can make a significant difference in the lives of individuals affected by Alzheimer's and dementia. By supporting the campaign, you contribute to challenging misconceptions, promoting understanding, and providing resources for those living with the disease. Through education, workshops, and inspiring stories, the StillMe campaign empowers individuals to create a more inclusive and supportive environment.

Click here to learn more.

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