Being dementia friendly is about considering the human experience of dementia rather than just the biological condition. It means recognising the person first, before the disease. Dementia is just one part of the whole person and their experience of life. However, there is a lot of information that conflicts with a friendly understanding of dementia. There are many stigmas and myths associated with the disease and those that have it. These stigmas and myths often become barriers to seeing and understanding the person living with dementia and can lead to unfavourable outcomes for the person.
Being dementia friendly can challenge some of the ways others think, perceive and feel about the disease and a person living with it.
Dementia friendly initiatives:
There are many stigmas associated with dementia that can hinder people living with the disease, as well as their families and those working to support them. Stigmas negatively impact service structure and delivery, care, and quality of life for all involved.
When a person becomes stereotyped, ‘stigmatised’, it becomes difficult for them to be perceived as anything but that stereotype. They are then perceived through the lens of that stereotype and labels are created within that perspective. The dehumanising of people often starts with stigma.
The removal and dispute of these stigmas is an important step to improving the quality of life for people with dementia, and is something Alzheimer’s WA strives to achieve as one of its key goals.
The table below outlines common stigmas associated with dementia, and the negative impacts these may have on people living with the disease.