B.C. Legislature is first in Canada to receive dementia education
On April 21, 2015 all B.C. Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) were invited to take part in an event that makes B.C. the first Legislature in Canada to receive dementia education. At this event MLAs had the opportunity to learn about dementia and how to support people in their constituencies and in their communities at large.
From left to right: Alzheimer’s advocate Jim Mann, Minister of Health Terry Lake, Alzheimer’s advocates Linda and Paul Blanchet, Opposition Spokesperson for Health Judy Darcy, Alzheimer Society of B.C. CEO Maria Howard, MLA George Heyman, Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie.
This non-partisan event began with opening remarks by the Honourable Terry Lake, Minister of Health. Closing comments were made by Judy Darcy, Official Opposition Spokesperson for Health. While attendees enjoyed lunch, they spoke with Alzheimer Society of B.C. representatives including people with dementia and caregivers.
The Alzheimer Society of B.C. delivered a Dementia Friends presentation, during which participants learned about the signs of dementia, the myths associated with the disease and how to communicate in an effective, respectful and appropriate manner. Besides hearing about the general importance of using empathy and compassion when interacting with a person with dementia, participants learned, in particular, that it is better to connect than correct when supporting a person with dementia — in other words, to understand and acknowledge the feelings behind a statement, even if it is not factually accurate.
“As the population of British Columbia ages we will all be affected by dementia — as friends and family members, but also as neighbours and colleagues. MLAs are no different. In fact, MLAs often play a big role in supporting their community members with dementia. For these reasons, the Society appreciates the opportunity to share some information about dementia and to work with individual MLAs to help them make their constituencies as dementia friendly as possible,” says Maria Howard, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of B.C.
The Dementia Friends presentation is part of a larger Dementia-Friendly Communities initiative in the province. Dementia-friendly communities help people with dementia feel included and supported in the places they work, live and play through reducing stigma and spreading awareness.