Alzheimer Awareness Month aims to change perception of the disease
Published Monday, January 11, 2016 6:10PM AST
Last Updated Monday, January 11, 2016 6:12PM AST
January is Alzheimer Awareness Month. This year’s #StillHere campaign is dedicated to challenging Canadians to change how they view the disease and getting the word out that life doesn’t end when Alzheimer’s begins.
Jack Rowe was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago.
“It happens so gradually usually that you're sort of not aware of it, but then looking back you realize there were some changes before the diagnosis came down,” says Janet Rowe, Jack’s wife.
Janet says a loss of memory and initiative was some of the early signs. Janet says some of the early signs were loss of memory and initiative.
The pair has had to make some adjustments, but the two still do many of the things they have enjoyed throughout their 55 years of marriage, like swimming, walking, and staying active in the community.
“We're still volunteering at the nursing home and at the Bide Awhile Shelter. We were very active in fundraising to get funds for the new building,” says Janet.
“It's not been a serious impediment, or happening, or development as far as I'm concerned,” says Jack.
Lloyd Brown is the executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia. He says many people diagnosed with Alzheimer's can still live a life full of dignity and respect.
“Quality of life doesn't end with diagnosis. There is life after one knows that they've got Alzheimer's disease,” says Brown. “What we want to do is use that time in a productive way so that older people who are affected by the disease can have a say in their life as they travel this journey through Alzheimer's.”
Stigma and misconceptions often contribute to isolation for those living with the disease, and their caretakers.
“We've got to minimize that stigma so that it's okay for people that have this disease, that they can get diagnosed, come out in public, and be supported in a meaningful respectful way,” says Brown.
Through the challenges, the Rowes say they have been able to maintain a sense of normalcy.
“The sense of humour is still there, life doesn't stop when Alzheimer's begins,” says Janet.
Resources and educational tools are available to those in need through the Alzheimer Society.