Living or caring for someone with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be enough to handle, but unfortunately, stigma about the disease is something that the person has to deal with on a daily basis. Those with the disease report being misunderstood because of the myths and misconceptions surrounding the disease.
The stigma around Alzheimer’s exists due to a lack of awareness and understanding from the general public about the disease. This not only takes a toll mentally, but also prevents Alzheimer’s patients from seeking medical treatment, receiving an early diagnosis, living the best quality of life, planning for the future or developing a support system. Worst of all, this stigma impacts the research done on the disease. Alzheimer’s receives funding for research at a lower rate than any other disease, even though the cost of caring for it is much higher.
The following are five suggestions to help overcome this stigma provided by members of the Alzheimer’s Association National Early-Stage Advisory Group (ESAG), which consists of individuals in the early stage of the disease who help raise awareness about the disease.
- Be open and direct: Engage with others and encourage open conversation about Alzheimer’s and the treatment and support needed.
- Communicate the facts: Giving accurate information is key to dissolving the stigma surrounding the disease. Give a pamphlet or a link directing the person to information that will help them better understand the disease.
- Seek support and stay connected: Your support network is critical. Stay engaged and connected whether it be with friends, family or support groups.
- Don’t be discouraged: Denial of the disease is not a reflection of you as a person. See it as an educational opportunity.
- Be a part of the solution: As an individual living with Alzheimer’s, you are the most important voice in fighting to break the stigma.