January 5, 2016 10:53 pm

New online campaign hopes to share stories of dementia, eliminate stigma

The Alzheimer Society is encouraging Manitobans to use the hashtag "Still Here" to share stories and tips for families.

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WINNIPEG — The Alzheimer Society is encouraging Manitobans to share stories of family and loved ones who have been diagnosed with dementia.

“People live very well after being diagnosed,” Wendy Schettler, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba said.  “They can contribute to the community, they are a part of families and lives, and we don’t want people to be written off.”

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That’s what the #StillHere campaign wants to highlight throughout the month of January. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the disease and offer tips to families that have loved ones who have been diagnosed.

Don de Vlaming was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in December 2012, but he doesn’t let his diagnosis get in the way of being active and enjoying time with friends and family.

“We sometimes take a little longer getting at the roots of various things in conversation, but it makes it more interesting,” Don said.

Don faces many challenges daily and wants people to learn more about what it means to be diagnosed with dementia.

“People’s feelings can get hurt very easily,” he said. “But a lot of people have also been patient and gracious.”

Don’s wife and primary caregiver Sylvia said they have a strong support system, but for others a diagnosis can create a barrier with the people in their lives.

“Right now it seems to be a stigma, and we need it to be something people talk about and know about, so people are no longer afraid of it,” she said.

The campaign runs until the end of January and hopes to raise funds for research.

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