TYH: Ending The Stigma Of Dementia

By Catherine Hansen
January 16, 2018 - 7:15pm Updated: January 18, 2018 - 10:34pm

It's a general term for a decline in mental ability, severe enough to interfere with daily life. As Catherine Hansen reports on today's To Your Health, over half a million Canadians are living with dementia.




And now, "To Your Health". Brought to you by Hart Drugs, Third Avenue Pharmacy and the Phoenix Pharmacy.

(Catherine Hansen - Reporter:)
Allan McKellar has been living with dementia for almost nine years. His wife Thereasa is his main caretaker.

(Tereasa McKellar:)
"You can still talk, but it's not the same."

(Allan McKellar:)
"Not up to date."

(Tereasa McKellar:)
"Well, you're not having the same conversation with somebody who's really there. They're there but they're not."

Allan is just one of over half a million people in Canada who are living with dementia. It's expected those numbers will grow to one million over the next fifteen years. That's why the Alzheimer's Society of BC is working to end stigma surrounding the disease.

(Sandra Meehan:)
"Just to normalize dementia and get people to understand that dementia is not a death sentence, dementia doesn't mean the end of a fulfilling life. And just to combat a lot of the myths and stigma that people have around dementia."

(Tereasa McKellar:)
"I think part of the reason there's such a stigma is because it is the brain, and if you're missing a leg, you can see that there's a problem. If somebody's got a brain ailment, and it's the same with mental illness, people think 'ughhh' because part of who we are, the big part of who we are, is our brain."

Alzheimer's accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases of dementia. It was first thought Allan had Alzheimer's, but his diagnosis has changed. His long term memory is still intact, but he has trouble remembering what happens day to day.

"Symptoms include challenges with memory, challenges with problem-solving, communication challenges. Sometimes there's cognitive or behavioural challenges as well. It can really just depend how the disease is affecting the brain."

It's estimated dementia-related care costs the healthcare system over $10 billion dollars a year, and although there isn't a cure for most cases, patients like Allan are able to live a meaningful and active life.

(Tereasa McKellar:)
"It takes time to come to terms with it yourself, because it's not an overnight process, and it is sort of a grieving thing. But he is still a person, aren't you dear?"

(Allan McKellar:)
"Yup, I still do a lot of crossword puzzles."

To your health, Catherine Hansen, CKPG News.


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