January 11, 2017 6:00 pm
Updated: January 11, 2017 10:48 pm

NB Alzheimer Society wants to erase stigma during awareness month

WATCH ABOVE: Alzheimer’s societies in New Brunswick are hoping Alzheimer’s Awareness Month will change the way people view the disease. Global’s Jeremy Keefe reports.

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The Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick is celebrating Alzheimer Awareness Month, joining other societies across the country in an effort to increase public knowledge about the disease and other forms of dementia, while also decreasing the stigma.

READ MORE: NB women knit ‘twiddlemuffs’, ease anxiety for seniors with dementia

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“When you look at other major chronic diseases there have been vast improvements in systemic issues around the disease, and in the way public perception is as well when there’s been an influx of awareness,” explained the New Brunswick society’s executive director Chandra MacBean.

“We want people to be accessing care and treatment as soon as possible but we also know that stigma prevents people from reaching out for help and support,” said MacBean.

Nearly 45,000 families across Atlantic Canada are affected by dementia, a growing number, according to the society.

Education through fun for families

Bill Moore of Fredericton and his wife Joyce became one of those families when he was diagnosed seven years ago with dementia. Joyce, a former nurse, took on the role as his primary caregiver.

Since then, they’ve taken part in both educational as well as fun events hosted by their local society.

READ MORE: Outdoor space opens in Taber for people with dementia: ‘It’s bittersweet’

Joyce said many of these programs help people who are going through similar situations share their experiences and learn from each other.

“I don’t have to fear because I know people understand,” she said.

‘It’s about people’

While Alzheimer societies across the country help educate caregivers and families, they want to broaden that reach and make knowledge of dementia more common than it currently is.

MacBean said the disease affects more than just the person who has it.

READ MORE: Fredericton support group helps shine light on what it’s like for people living with dementia

“This disease is really much more than about numbers, this is about individuals, it’s about people. This is about husbands and wives and sisters and brothers who are impacted and the ripple effect that happens,” MacBean said. “It then impacts communities, it impacts the health care system.”

For more information on Alzheimer Awareness Month you can visit their website.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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