Alzheimer Society and Government of Canada launch Dementia Friends Canada

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Health News Radon

THUNDER BAY – LIVING – The Alzheimer Society of Thunder Bay, alongside other provincial and local Alzheimer Societies across the country, are seeking one million Dementia Friends. Are you ready to join?

Canadians from all walks of life, backgrounds and age groups are needed as Dementia Friends to help reduce the stigma and misinformation. You can help Canadians living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias stay connected to their communities and live as well as possible.

Living with dementia comes with good days and bad but the most challenging part is the stigma behind it. Canadians with dementia often feel labelled, dismissed and cut off from friends – even their families.

Modelled after Dementia Supporters in Japan and Dementia Friends in the United Kingdom, Dementia Friends Canada is an Alzheimer Society and Government of Canada initiative. It aims to provide Canadians with the basic information they need to better understand what it’s like to live with the disease and actions they can take to help people live fully and remain active.

To become a Dementia Friend, community members, can visit the Dementia Friends Canada website (dementiafriends.ca), watch a short featuring veteran Canadian actor Eric Peterson (Corner Gas, Street Legal), register and commit to an action. The website features other resources and ways to “friendraise” through social media.

“Dementia Friends Canada could be a game-changer and the Alzheimer Society is excited to be part of this initiative,” says Alison Denton, Executive Director at the Alzheimer Society of Thunder Bay, “People with dementia are people first and with a little help and understanding from friends, are still able to thrive in their communities and carry on with their lives.”

Three out of four Canadians know someone with dementia – a neighbour, friend, co-worker or family member. Even if they don’t already know someone, they soon will. The number of Canadians with dementia is expected to more than double to 1.4 million in less than 20 years. In Thunder Bay, there are 2,749 who have some form of dementia.

Age continues to be a primary risk factor for dementia. The causes of dementia are not fully known, effective treatments are lacking and there is still no cure.

“Dementia Friends is more than just awareness. It’s about the power of simple actions of kindness multiplied a million times. That has tremendous impact on changing the face of dementia and improving the quality of life for those with it,’ says Denton.

Dementia Friends kicked off in Edmonton on June 5 at a press conference held by Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose and the Alzheimer Society. The initiative aims to recruit 1 million Dementia Friends by spring 2017. Minister Ambrose was the first Canadian to sign up as a Dementia Friend.

To become a Dementia Friend, visit www.dementiafriends.ca. Hashtag #Becomeafriend or visit us on Facebook and Instagram.