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I’m a personal support worker and graduated from Conestoga College in 2005.  I absolutely love helping seniors who have dementia, especially those who may be experiencing more complex behaviours as a result of their disease.

Recently, my father-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Before his diagnosis, I had a strong feeling for quite a while that something was happening and had advocated for our family to go and get him checked out to confirm what I was thinking.

I have cared for many residents and their families living with dementia and have firsthand experience with their struggles along the way, from diagnosis, to home care, to long-term care, to hospital stays, to transitioning back into long-term care. Fortunately for my father-in-law, who still lives at home, he has found great understanding and support from the Alzheimer Society.

But I continue to see stigma from both the healthcare side of things and from a family perspective, whether you have dementia or are caring for someone with it. There have been times when the stigma we have experienced as a family has been significant.

Attitudes are changing but not nearly where they need to be. We need to take dementia out of the shadows. I believe education is a huge part of understanding. I also think if people could participate in a program that simulates what life is like with dementia, it would be easier for them to understand, especially for those working and caring for people with dementia. Training is so essential.

A final thought: Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone with dementia.  Do not forget the person. They’re still there.


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Lorraine Ethier 168 days ago

My daughter who is a down syndrome of 49 years old has dementia, I feel so sorry for her, it would be nice to receive information.

Rosemary Hardy 181 days ago

Our local Alzheimer’s Society has been a Godsend for my husband and I. Pamphlets, our social worker, caregiver meetings, the “learning series” and informative sites like this have been so very helpful to get the education we need to understand and learn about this complicated disease. I can’t thank them enough for their help and support.

Trudy bentley 182 days ago

All so true. I have been going to meetings with my friend for over three years. Her husband has early onset. He is now in a care facility but loves company. No problem to take him (back home) as he calls the facility. He is so in the place he should be the spouse hurts the most. Don't keep it a secret it is so much better to talk about it. Dementia is not catchy.

Monique 182 days ago

I first sought information about Alzheimer disease and dementia about 5 years ago, when my partner's father was showing signs of the disease. The Alzheimer Society was very helpful in helping me understand, as most of the information I see is aimed only at immediate family, leaving me to ask: what about close friends who see these changes, too, but are one or more steps detached? Now I'm seeing it again, this time with my partner's mom. Alzheimer disease/dementia can strike twice.

Here are my tips to help you understand:

  • Dementia is not normal for "old people."
  • All behaviour has meaning and should not be ignored. Even though someone with dementia may be non-verbal they can still hear you…they’re still there.
  • Visit as often as you can; be patient and allow the person with dementia the time to process information and respond.
  • People with dementia are still people and they deserve to be treated with respect at all times.
  • Be kind – always.