January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month – an opportunity to reflect on our growing understanding of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and our need to listen to, and learn from, people living with the disease.
Dementia is still clouded by stigma, not unlike that experienced by those living with mental health problems or illnesses. With the right care and support, people living with dementia can enjoy meaningful and healthy lives.
The Government of Canada is developing a dementia strategy for Canada to help Canadians deal with the impacts and costs of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Through strengthened research and a coordinated approach to care, it offers fresh hope to the more than 500,000 people in Canada who live with dementia.
Dementia is not a natural consequence of aging, and the Guidelines for Comprehensive Mental Health Services for Older Adults in Canada include valuable recommendations for mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention. These guidelines also offer a vision of integrated mental health services for all older adults, no matter what their diagnosis may be.
Another important resource is the National Guidelines for a Comprehensive Service System to Support Family Caregivers of Adults with Mental Health Problems and Illnesses, which serves as a roadmap towards a health system that better supports caregivers. While studies show they can experience a significant sense of personal growth and fulfillment by supporting a loved one, the day-to-day demands of long-term caregiving can take a toll on their physical and emotional health.
We invite you to find a moment to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and listen to the powerful stories of people living with dementia featured in a new Alzheimer Society of Canada social media campaign to reduce dementia stigma. We can all learn something important by seeing the world through the lens of their experience.
President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada
Dr. David Conn
Co-Chair, Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health
Mental Health Commission of Canada
firstname.lastname@example.org / 613.857.0840