Youth advocate spreads the word during Alzheimer's Awareness Month
January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is celebrating the work being done by people of all ages who want to build Dementia-Friendly Communities. Sixty per cent of people with dementia still live in the community, and by lowering stigma and barriers – both social and physical – we can support them in enjoying good quality of life.“People with dementia may face challenges with everyday activities like shopping, banking, going to restaurants or visiting their local post office,” says Maria Howard, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of B.C. “This can be isolating for the person with dementia, as well as for care partners.” With the number of British Columbians impacted by dementia growing each year, it’s increasingly important to change this through information, compassion and community engagement.
Dementia-Friendly Communities can be cities, companies, and even schools. At New Westminster Secondary School, youth advocate Iva Demirova is spreading awareness and showing herself to be a community leader who will help B.C. become truly dementia-friendly.
Iva was initially drawn to the youth-run Initiative for Neuroscience and Dementia (IND) because of her love of science, but in seeking to learn more, she was able to connect with her grandmother over the experience of caring for Iva’s late grandfather.
Iva was inspired to start a chapter of the IND in her school in Grade 10. The club quickly grew to 20 members and continues to grow. “It means we’ll be able to hold more fundraisers and awareness events throughout the year,” says Iva. The IND is focused on spreading awareness and raising funds for research. “We hope to help everyone feel more included in our community.”
“Iva, and other young people like her, working to spread awareness is incredibly important,” says Howard. “The more people we can educate about the disease, the easier it is to lower stigma and build inclusive communities.”
The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is working with New Westminster, Vancouver and other communities across the province to become dementia-friendly. Throughout January, the Society is encouraging British Columbians to #BecomeAFriend to people with dementia.
Learn more about how you can become a Dementia Friend, and learn more about how our communities can become more welcoming and inclusive of people living with the disease.
Photo credit: Cornelia Naylor, New Westminster Record.