Alzheimer’s Awareness Month: Become a Dementia Friend

January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. The Alzheimer Society of BC is inviting all British Columbians to #BecomeAFriend to people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, it is projected that dementia will affect close to 800,000 Canadians by 2031; global projections are that dementia will more than double to 81 million affected individuals by 2040.

Last September, the magnitude of this challenge was discussed at the 10th Annual Forum of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. The Forum noted that a critical part of the solution to the challenge resides in the potential for disease prevention. Estimates are that if dementia could be delayed by five years over the next three decades through effective intervention, the prevalence would be reduced by 50%. Data were presented which underscored the benefits of exercise, cognitive training, control of vascular risk factors, and dietary counselling.Alzheimer infographic

In BC there are 70,000 people living with dementia. This number is expected to grow to 177,684 by 2034. Planning for the needs of people with dementia, and ensuring that people with dementia have opportunities for involvement and social interaction is critical. Municipalities have a key role in making sure that civic infrastructure is responsive to the needs of people with dementia.

Accessible, Inclusive Communities

To this end, the Alzheimer Society of BC is bringing forth the Dementia-Friendly Communities initiative. By providing the tools, education and information that community members need, the Society is helping municipalities, professionals, corporations and the public to develop dementia-friendly communities. The Initiative includes:

  • Dementia Friends education to let everyone take part in creating accessible, inclusive spaces for people with dementia.
  • Education and information toolkits for municipalities and professional sectors across the province.

“People with dementia may face challenges when shopping, banking, using transportation or visiting the post office,” says Maria Howard, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of BC. “However, with information, compassion and community engagement, there’s an opportunity to change this.”

Become a Friend

Across Canada, Alzheimer Societies are working with the Public Health Agency of Canada on the national Dementia Friends Canada awareness and public engagement initiative. The aim is to create a more aware and informed Canadian population to dispel myths and reduce stigma about dementia.

Twitter screengrabA Dementia Friend is someone who learns about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into simple actions that can help people with dementia live well. “Becoming a Dementia Friend means helping raise awareness and creating positive change, allowing people with dementia to stay connected to their community,” says Maria Howard.” Individuals can register to become a Dementia Friend and join others who are coming together to increase awareness, support our neighbours, and build communities that are more accessible and inclusive.

Stay tuned as the Alzheimer Society of BC continues to raise awareness about how we can become a Dementia Friend. Follow #BecomeAFriend on Twitter to learn more about how to improve the lives of people living with dementia.

Alzheimer Society of BC Education Workshops This Month

Dementia Dialogues: Hoarding

Thursday, Jan. 14, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Century House, 620 8th St., New Westminster.

Learn strategies to deal with excessive acquisition negatively impacting a loved one with dementia. What to do if they are unwilling to discard perishable items, or living in an overly cluttered living environment?

The Transition to Residential Care

Tuesday, Jan. 26, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Glen Pine Pavilion,
1200 Glen Pine Crt., Coquitlam.
Pre-registration is required. 604-298-0780 or

Designed for family caregivers who are considering residential care options for a person with dementia. Information on how to access residential care in the community, important considerations when choosing a facility, challenges families face when making decisions about residential care, and strategies for preparing for the transition.

For More Information….

For a list of Alzheimer’s and dementia-related resources in Metro Vancouver, visit The Red Book Online. You can also dial 2-1-1 anytime to speak to an information and referral specialist, or contact us by texting the name of your community to 2-1-1.

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