January is Alzheimer’s Awareness month in Canada. The Peachland Wellness Centre supports the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada in its effort to raise awareness and encourage members in our community to learn more about dementia. By understanding what people living with dementia experience in their day-to-day lives; their struggles, their successes and their hopes, we can reduce the stigma associated with this illness.
More than 70,000 people in British Columbia are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, or another type of dementia. Dementia is a syndrome that can be caused by a number of progressive illnesses that affect memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.
While most people living with dementia are over the age of 65, a small number of people in their 40s and 50s can and do develop dementia. After age 65, the likelihood of developing dementia roughly doubles every five years.
People living with dementia want to live as well as possible and participate in their communities – but stigma often remains a barrier. Stigma is something which causes an individual to be classified by others in an undesirable, rejected stereotype.
The stigma associated with dementia leads to a focus on the person’s impairment, rather than on their remaining strengths and ability to enjoy many activities and interactions with other people. Depriving a person with dementia the companionship of others, placing them in isolation with limited stimulation, causes disability beyond that caused by the illness itself.
Because of the effects of dementia, a person’s ability to communicate may become impaired, making it difficult to talk with them. While the symptoms associated with dementia affects the way a person with dementia interacts with others, they benefit greatly from continuing to engage in as many activities as they can.
The PWC, funded by Interior Health Authority, provides an Adult Day Service: part-of-the-day supervised programming in a group setting for individuals with dementia. Currently on hold due to Covid-19, this support service includes leisure activities, meals and personal care.
“One goal of providing these services in the community is to assist clients to remain independent in their homes as long as it is safe to do so, to provide respite to unpaid caregivers, to provide social and recreational activities in a safe setting, and to improve the quality of life and reduce isolation for clients,”
-Christina MacMaster, PWC Executive Coordinator
Part of creating a healthy community for all is creating a place where people feel safe, included, and have a sense of belonging.
If you have questions about PWC programs and services such as the Adult Day Service please call 250-767-0141 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) or for information specific to Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, call the Alzheimer Society of B.C.'s First Link® Dementia Helpline (toll-free) 1-800-936-6033 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.)