After hearing the neurologist tell me that I had vascular dementia and possibly Alzheimer’s, my hopes and dreams of traveling crashed. The doors slowly closed on my planned trips to foreign lands. I had prepared and saved enough money for my future adventures, but now it was not to be.
After many weeks of moping and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to look at the other side of dementia. I became an advocate to reduce the stigma associated with the disease. I’m an avid reader and learned more about dementia to educate myself so I can educate others.
With the guidance of the Alzheimer Society, both locally and nationally, I had the privilege of helping others become aware that there is indeed life after diagnosis and dispel public misconceptions about the disease. From these engagements, I became aware of the concerns and fears of people living with dementia.
I was touched by their sense of loneliness in family gatherings and their feelings of guilt from the financial and emotional burden the disease created on families. I felt deeply troubled when I heard their care partners talk about the depression and loss of dignity that the person with dementia felt.
My vision is that the Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia will help address these concerns. I believe the Charter restores the feeling of confidence and dignity to people with dementia and gives them a path to move forward and enjoy life in their communities.
In my mind, the three groups involved in this endeavour are people with dementia, their families and their caregivers. When each one of them understand the roles they play, it becomes a better world for everyone.
Speaking as a person living with dementia, we need to stand tall and help others understand that we are still valuable members of our communities. By sharing our experiences, we can enrich the lives of others and encourage networks of sensitive and caring people.
Canada, like other countries, has a growing number of citizens who will take this journey with dementia. We, as a nation, need to play a leadership role to ensure that people living with dementia are not marginalized.
If you’re a person with dementia, the Charter gives confidence to know that you are not alone, and reassurance that your country, your health and social services and your family, friends and neighbours in your community are there to lend a hand.
Read more about the Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia, and how it helps people like Mario.