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'We need to talk' about dementia says Alzheimer Society Nova Scotia

One in five Canadians would avoid seeking help for as long as possible if they thought they had dementia, says the organization

The number of people living with dementia in Canada is expected to nearly double in the next 15 years.

Alzheimer Society Nova Scotia has launched a digital campaign called "We need to talk" aimed at sparking conversations about the disease.

The organization's director of programs and services, Linda Bird, said having difficulty retrieving information is a normal part of aging. Memory loss can also be caused by stress, medication and other issues.

"With dementia, it's more than that," she told NEWS 95.7's The Todd Veinotte Show. "It's short-term memory in the beginning, but it's also changes in personality, changes in judgment and reasoning, and this disease comes on gradually."

According to the society, one in five Canadians would avoid seeking help for as long as possible if they thought they had dementia.

Bird said that's largely due to the stigma surrounding the disease, but the sooner the conversation starts, the more help can be given.

"We hear from clients who actually stop going out after getting a diagnosis, but our message to them is life isn't over," she explained.

"You're no different from one day to the next just because you got a diagnosis, but there are things you can do to help live well day-to-day and things you can do to plan for the future, so when you are no longer able to make choices and have your voice heard, your wishes will be followed."

January is Alzheimer's Awareness Month, and the society's director of philanthropy, Sarah Lyon, said it comes shortly after we've spent a lot of time with our family over the holidays.

"Maybe you noticed there were some changes in the ability to perform tasks, memory, behaviour and personality, so we are coming out in January to say, if you've seen a difference or you have questions, you should call us," Lyon said.

The Alzheimer Society Nova Scotia will be hosting an awareness breakfast at the end of the month.

The Jan. 30 event at Casino Nova Scotia's Schooner Room will feature a variety of voices about dementia in our community, including Marilyn Taylor, who lives with the disease.

Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana & lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the community editor for
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