Respect, dignity, education key in dealing with dementia
Our guest speaker was Judith Fraser, a volunteer in public education with the Alzheimer Society of Niagara.
Judith pointed out that Dementia Friends Canada is part of an international movement with the goal of improving respect and dignity for sufferers of dementia while educating the population to dispel myths and reduce the stigma about dementia.
She said that a Dementia Friend is someone who learns about living with dementia and then can help a person feel accepted and be able to live as normal a life as possible.
Judith pointed out that dementia is not a disease but a set of symptoms that accompanies a disease that can take a variety of forms.
She detailed a number of warning signs for the onset of dementia including memory loss, difficulty performing familiar tasks, problems with language, disorientation in time and space, impaired judgement, abstract thinking, misplacing things, changes in mood and behaviour, changes in personality and loss of initiative.
In pointing out some of the myths, she said that there is not a strong, known genetic link to dementia. It is not necessarily restricted to seniors as it can affect people in their 30’s and 40’s. Some forms of dementia can be reversed but there is no real cure at this time.
Judith also offered some tips for communicating with someone with dementia. She suggested such things as speaking slowly and clearly; connect, don’t correct; make one point at a time and allow time for a response.
She provided two different websites for people to seek out further information: www.dementiafriends.ca and www.amissantecognitive.ca or you can also contact the Alzheimer Society of Niagara Region at www.alzheimernigara.ca
Our speaker at the March meeting will be Alastair Davis, the chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity in Niagara.