Stigma is one of the biggest barriers for people living with dementia to live fully with dignity and respect. Help us fight stigma by learning more about its effects and taking steps to reduce its impact.
What is stigma surrounding dementia?
- Stigma surrounding dementia encompasses any negative attitude or discriminatory behaviour against people living with dementia, just on the basis of having the disease.
- When a disease is as prevalent as dementia, yet still poorly understood, it’s easy for false beliefs to spread. Left unchallenged, these beliefs perpetuate stigmatizing attitudes against people living with dementia, reducing their quality of life.
- These attitudes extend to the families and caregivers of people living with dementia, affecting them as well.
- The unfortunate reality is that any person living with dementia is very likely to encounter stigma – even though dementia can affect anyone. No one is immune to the risks of dementia, and there is no cure or treatment that can guarantee prevention.
- People living with dementia did not choose to have this disease, and they certainly don’t appreciate being labelled and ignored, among other negative responses, due to their diagnosis.
Stigma takes many forms
There are many ways that stigma can negatively impact the lives of people living with dementia, their families and their caregivers:
- Lack of awareness about dementia
- Harmful and misleading assumptions
- Negative language
- Belittlement and jokes
- No support after diagnosis
- Stigma by association
- Loss of self-worth
People living with dementia are experiencing stigma right now
Even though more than 70,000 kiwis are living with dementia, many feel excluded, ignored and treated differently for something beyond their control.
If you know a person living with dementia, chances are they’ve experienced discrimination that they wouldn’t have faced if they didn’t have dementia.
Sadly, while most New Zealanders acknowledge that dementia is a serious disease, and that people living with dementia are likely to experience discrimination, attitudes that reinforce stigma against dementia are still common.
Together, we can fight the impact of stigma
Positive change starts with learning. When you know the facts behind dementia, you will be able to challenge assumptions and false beliefs when they appear. By sharing your knowledge, you can reduce the negative impact of stigma against people living with dementia, families and caregivers.