See dementia differently

Almost 50% of Canadians would not want others to know if they had dementia, according to new survey results released by the Alzheimer Society. While awareness about dementia has increased, the Society notes that stigma and negative attitudes around it continue to persist.

The Leger-led survey, which questioned 1500 Canadians between the ages of 18 and 65 online, also reveals 51% of respondents admitted to using some type of stigmatizing language such as telling inappropriate dementia-related jokes or referring to someone as “demented”.  That stigma trickles down to caregivers, with 1 in 5 agreeing they sometimes feel embarrassed to be seen in public with the person they care for.

Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, continues to have a significant and growing impact across the county with more than 400,000 Canadians aged 65 and older having been diagnosed. Alzheimer’s is a specific disease and dementia is an overall term for a set of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Symptoms happen in stages and may include difficulties thinking, problem-solving or language, and changes in mood or behaviour.

Although seen as an “old person’s”, dementia affects many people in their 40’s and 50’s. It is not a normal part of ageing. Disappointingly, despite greater awareness, sufferers and their families still face discrimination and stigmatization.

To coincide with Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in January Societies across the county are using the social awareness campaign – I live with dementia. Let me help you understand ­– to spark conversations and encourage Canadians to see dementia differently. 

The website is challenging misconceptions by sharing stories from people across the country who are living with dementia and providing information to dispel commonly held myths. Visitors are invited to test their understanding of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and encouraged to take the pledge to be more dementia-friendly.

To support and encourage those with Alzheimer’s disease locally, the Estrie Alzheimer Society is holding a new activity in English, the “Early Birds”. Townshippers with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia are invited to join in board games, puzzles, painting and more at the Le Colibri activity and resource center, from 10 am to 12 pm, January 26 to May 4.  

The Friday morning workshop will be held for 15 weeks at a cost of $8 a week, and participants can join at any time until May 4. Participants must be a member of the Société Alzheimer de l’Estrie for $25 a year. To register, contact Myrja Lamarche at 819-821-5127.

New health reference tool released

This week the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de l’Estrie – Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke (CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS) is distributing a new publication via the Publisac that will help direct people to the right resources at the right time and make an informed decision about your health, and others, when you have the flu or gastroenteritis symptoms.

The CIUSSS Estrie CHUS has provided the “Your Health Guide” in English, complete with resource information for local health care and frontline services facilities as well as emergency hotlines. To download a copy in English visit [click on “English version” found midway down the page]. The guide can also be downloaded from or by contacting Townshippers’ at 819-566-5717.

This weekly column in The Record keeps you in touch with Townshippers’ Association’s activities and news. For other ways to keep in touch with us, visit our website, follow us on, Twitter @Townshippers or get in touch with our offices in Sherbrooke at 100 – 257 Queen, 819-566-5717, toll-free: 1-866-566-5717, or Lac-Brome at 3-584 Knowlton Rd, 450-242-4421, toll-free: 1-877-242-4421.

Publication: Keeping in Touch column, Sherbrooke Record, Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Photo Credit: Alzheimer Society of Canada

Photo Caption: To tackle stigma, the Alzheimer Society is letting the experts do the talking—people living with dementia. People like Mario, Naomi, Roger and Mary Beth share their inspiring stories and invite Canadians to take a few pointers on how to be open and accepting towards people with dementia.