“Dementia is arguably the most feared condition of our time; and yet, the stigma and fear it arouses in society only serve to further erode the well-being of those affected.”
- Dr. Allen Power
Schlegel Chair in Aging and Dementia Innovation
With a rapidly growing aging population and the realization of all it calls on us as a society to care for our fellow human beings, our families and friends, parents and loved ones, we cannot shy away from a topic all too often named but not necessarily addressed. Dementia as an illness has elevated the best in people and has also revealed great opportunities. Dementia, as a reality that is part of our ever-growing reach of care in healthcare today, calls for us to reflect on our own understanding, our own perspectives and, yes, our own biases.
From the Beryl Institute comes a new paper that pushes us to see dementia as not something only to be addressed in segments of the healthcare system, in long-term care organizations, nursing homes or designated care units. Rather, it helps us recognize that with the very reality of our growing population discussed above, we will encounter levels of dementia in all care settings and in ways we may not yet have anticipated. Most importantly, what we learn from the contributors in this paper is that opportunity still exists to move beyond stigma to understanding, to recognize the reality of dementia as a lived experience, even for those who are challenged to express it for themselves. It is an opportunity to link policy with purpose, understanding with action and elevate a reality that is bigger than the topic of dementia itself. When we see people living with dementia AND their family/care partners as experts and as team members in caring, then we afford the greatest opportunities for dignity and respect sought by all who find themselves in any healthcare situation.