This January, #BecomeAFriend to people with dementia
January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is inviting all British Columbians of all ages to #BecomeAFriend to people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. A Dementia Friend is someone who makes the decision to learn more about dementia and how to support people living with the disease through simple action.
“People with dementia who can remain engaged and active are able to enjoy good quality of life,” says Society CEO Maria Howard. “Becoming a Dementia Friend means helping raise awareness and creating positive change, allowing people with dementia to stay connected to their community.” With over 70,000 people in B.C. living with the disease and the numbers growing, it’s becoming even more important to come together to support our neighbours and build communities that are more accessible and inclusive.
A part of being a Dementia Friend means knowing that there is no one story of dementia – both men and women can live with this disease in their 70s, 60s, 50s and even their 40s. This is something that Victoria Schuster – a Grade 11 high school student from Kelowna who is currently attending Shawnigan Lake School on Vancouver Island – understands very well. Her father was diagnosed with early onset dementia five years ago, at the age of 45. He now lives in an assisted living facility.
Victoria shared her story recently in a speech to the student body. There were few dry eyes when she finished. In a most open and vulnerable way, she knew this was an important step to take in her own journey, but mostly she spoke to raise awareness within her school community about the disease. “The best thing we can all do is to talk about it”, says Victoria “and to educate yourself about the disease and how it really impacts people like my Dad. Dementia is what it is. It is not something to be embarrassed about.”“It’s great to see young people like Victoria becoming advocates for people with dementia and helping spread awareness,” says Howard. “Taking action as an individual is the first step in building a dementia-friendly community.”
Stay tuned as the Alzheimer Society of B.C. continues to raise awareness about how you can #BecomeAFriend. Join the likes of the B.C. Legislature, CKNW broadcaster Lynda Steele, Sportsnet Central’s Caroline Cameron and Victoria Schuster to improve the lives of people in your community who are living with dementia.
Learn more about how to improve the lives of people living with dementia and #BecomeAFriend.