Common Misconceptions and How to Battle Stigma of Alzheimer’s
If you or a loved one hear the words, “You have Alzheimer’s,” it can help explain some of the changes you may have noticed but it can also cause feelings of shame and fear. While there are more and more treatments being discovered, the stigma that’s still attached to a dementia diagnosis keeps many from seeking help and having the highest quality of life possible. That’s why it’s important for everyone to gain a better understanding of what having Alzheimer’s disease, or other forms of dementia, means and what’s possible for those who have it.
What is a Stigma?
Stigma is the use of negative labels to identify a person with a disability or illness. Examples of stigmas against dementia include:
- Any negative attitude or discriminatory behavior against people living with dementia, just based on having the disease
- When a disease is as prevalent as dementia, yet still poorly understood, it’s easy for false beliefs to spread, reducing the quality of life of people living with dementia
- These attitudes also affect the families and caregivers of people living with dementia
The unfortunate reality is that no one is immune to the risks of dementia, and there is no cure or treatment that can guarantee prevention. People living with dementia did not choose to have this disease, and they certainly don’t appreciate being labeled and ignored, among other negative responses, due to their diagnosis.
Lack of public awareness and understanding of the disease can prevent people from:
- Seeking medical treatment when symptoms are present
- Receiving an early diagnosis or any diagnosis at all
- Living the best quality of life possible while they can do so
- Making plans for their future
- Benefitting from available treatments
- Developing a support system
- Participating in clinical trials
Tips for Overcoming Alzheimer’s Stigma
One of the first steps to overcoming the stigma of dementia is confronting the myths. This will lead to more understanding about this condition and create better Alzheimer’s care and dementia-friendly spaces. If you or a loved one have early-stage dementia, here are some concrete ways to help raise awareness:
- Be open and direct: Engage others in discussions about Alzheimer’s disease and the need for prevention, better treatment and an eventual cure.
- Facts matter: Sharing accurate information is key to dispelling misconceptions about dementia. Learn the facts about Alzheimer’s, find an education program online or near you and offer information to help people better understand Alzheimer’s disease.
- Seek support: It is important to stay engaged in meaningful relationships and activities. Whether it is family, friends or a support group, a network is critical. Find an early-stage support group near you.
- Stay positive: If people think that Alzheimer’s disease is normal aging, see it as an education opportunity.
- You’re part of the solution: As someone dealing the dementia, you have a valuable perspective that can help raise awareness, end stigma and advocate for more Alzheimer’s support and research.
The Benefits of Memory Care Communities
While the stigma and stereotypes of having or caring for someone who has dementia can feel overwhelming, memory care communities are dementia-friendly places that understand the importance of supporting someone with dementia and their family and friends. Memory care communities frequently offer dementia support groups, and their staff is trained in the best and most innovative ways to assist those with a dementia diagnosis.
You’ve Got an Understanding Friend at Freedom Square
At Freedom Square our memory care neighborhood features person-centered care in a setting that is designed for those with dementia. An important part of our specialized care is an innovative program called Heartfelt Connections – A Memory Care Program®. If you have questions about our memory care program, give us call, use our Community Assistant chat feature or contact us here.