Dementia Friends learn about support role

Many Williams Lake area residents are making one of their most important New Year’s resolutions ever by becoming Dementia Friends.

Many Williams Lake area residents are making one of their most important New Year’s resolutions ever by becoming Dementia Friends, says Tara Hildebrand, education and support co-ordinator for the Alzheimer Society of B.C., Williams Lake and Central Interior.

She says Dementia Friends meet in Williams Lake once a month and are committed 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.

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

She says statistics suggest three out of four Williams Lake and area residents know someone living with dementia.

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 Hildebrand.

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 B.C.’s Central Interior branch is here to help Williams Lake area residents with dementia and their care partners.

That knowledge can easily translate into action at home and work, Hildebrand says.

The non-profit Alzheimer Society of B.C. 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.

Williams Lake area residents can find out about upcoming education sessions by contacting Leanne Hildebrand at 250-377-8200 (toll-free 1-800-886-6946) or thildebrand@alzheimerbc.org, and visiting www.alzheimerbc.org.