If, we are to erase the stigma associated with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, we MUST develop the support necessary to cause a shift in society’s perception of the disease.
This shift will ensure acceptance and inclusion of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Without education, the stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s disease will continue to paralyze the lives of so many.
The need for this shift is supported by the idea of the stigma itself. A stigma generates confusion and perpetuates the feelings and thoughts of being disgraced, having a spoiled identity, being undesirable, and/or feeling incompetent and considered dangerous by others. This stigma harms the person who is diagnosed, both emotionally and socially.
Along with the diagnosed individual, the stigma affects their family and friends. This leads to isolation and depression for the diagnosed, as well as their family and close friends.
In order to avoid this negative environment, we have been given the opportunity to act by encouraging and providing the resources for individuals and family members to:
- Be aware of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and how to seek medical treatment and advice,
- Receive an early diagnosis
- Live a quality life, as long as they are able,
- Have the chance to plan for their future,
- Have the opportunity to benefit from available treatments and clinical trials, when and where available, and
- Surround themselves with a loving and knowledgeable support group.
These resources give the diagnosed person, family and friends a chance to:
- Engage in meaningful discussions about the disease, how it can be prevented, the possibilities of new and more effective treatments, and someday, A CURE,
- Learn the facts about Alzheimer’s disease by seeking accurate information from literature, computer links and/or available support groups,
- Stay engaged in meaningful activities and maintain positive relationships, and
- Feel free and secure in using their voice to express their thoughts and feelings in order to avoid discouragement, depression and isolation.
The stigma CAN and MUST be erased, through education, so each and every diagnosed individual is given the right and opportunity to live in a world where they are respected, valued, loved, cared for and HEARD!
Erasing an Alzheimer’s Stigma: Part Two of a Four Part Series