Dementia Friends are committing to learning about dementia so they can be supportive and inclusive toward people with the illness.

Dementia Friends are committing to learning about dementia so they can be supportive and inclusive toward people with the illness.

Nelson residents become Dementia Friends

Dementia Friends commit to learning about dementia so they can be supportive of people with the disease.

Many Nelson residents are this month making one of their most important New Year’s resolutions ever.

They’re becoming Dementia Friends, committing to learning a little bit about dementia so they can be supportive and inclusive toward people with the illness, which has become one of the country’s most pressing health issues. Statistics suggest three out of four area residents know someone living with dementia.

“People affected by dementia continue to live in and be a part of our communities, and we can support them to

stay connected in ways that are meaningful for them,” says Julie Lefflelaar, regional Support and Education Coordinator for the non-profit Alzheimer Society of BC for Nelson and the West Kootenay.

“Through individual actions we can raise awareness of dementia and reduce the stigma attached to it.”

The Dementia Friend campaign is the cornerstone of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, which runs until the end of January.

Becoming a Dementia Friend is easy, says Lefflelaar. The process starts by signing up at DementiaFriends.ca. The next step is to understand five simple things about dementia:

• It is not a natural part of aging.

• It is not just about losing your memory. Dementia can affect thinking, communicating and doing everyday activities.

• It is possible to live well with dementia.

• There is more to a person than a diagnosis of dementia.

• The Alzheimer Society of BC’s Nelson and West Kootenay branch is here to help people with dementia and their care partners.

That knowledge can easily translate into action at home and work, Lefflelaar adds.

The Society has supported people living with dementia for 35 years. One of its initiatives, First Link, connects people affected by dementia with information, Society support services and programs such as Minds in Motion, and dementia education sessions at any stage of the journey.

You can find out about upcoming education sessions by contacting Julie Lefflelaar at 250-365-6769 (toll-free 1-855-301-6742) or jleffelaar@alzheimerbc.org, and visiting alzheimerbc.org.