“I live with dementia…in Duncan. Let me help you understand.”
Canadians affected by dementia are going public for a third consecutive year in an effort to change hearts and minds. People living with the disease, their caregivers and family members are courageously stepping forward with their personal stories in the Alzheimer Society’s nation-wide campaign, I live with dementia. Let me help you understand as part of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.
Chris Kensit (right) participating in the Society’s Experience of Dementia Across Cultures event in Fall 2018.
“I went home and I had a good cry,” Chris Kensit says when describing how she reacted to her diagnosis of dementia in 2015. “Because my mother lived with dementia – and now that my sister is also living with it – I had intimate knowledge of what the progression of the disease and its symptoms were going to look like.”
Living on her own in Duncan, Chris took her disease as a challenge. “I have a science background and found doing research made it easier to cope,” she says. “While my general practitioner has been incredibly supportive and generous, he wasn’t very well-versed in dementia and didn’t have many resources to draw on. Because I started doing my own research when he diagnosed me, I started to bring in studies and materials I’d found. He likes to tease me about being his teacher but the whole process has become a very collaborative one.”
Since her diagnosis, Chris has been become a fierce advocate, joining the B.C. Leadership Group for People Living with Dementia, advising the Alzheimer Society of B.C. on how to support people affected by the disease and helping to spread awareness of the issue.
“I don’t think I’ve encountered stigma as much as I’ve encountered a lack of understanding about the disease – and a lack of patience,” Chris says. “People need to understand that living with dementia means experiencing certain challenges, particularly around memory. They need to find solutions rather than getting fed up with someone when they’re struggling.”
Want to learn more?
Read the stories of more B.C. individuals and families who are affected by dementia and help us change the conversation!