People living with memory loss often encounter challenges when it comes to caregiving and health concerns, but facing stigmas around memory loss shouldn’t be one of them. Unfortunately, negative labels and misunderstandings are more common than they should be. Simply put, a stigma is the result of misconception and a lack of awareness, but it’s damaging to those with memory loss and those who care for them.
In some situations, the stigmas around memory loss prevents people from seeking medical help when symptoms appear. It’s crucial that everyone who needs care overcomes these misperceptions, because addressing the situation early offers the benefits of treatment and time to develop a true support system of family, friends and healthcare professionals. Building that network and proactively planning for the future are the best ways to help people with memory loss experience high levels of health and happiness.
To better support memory loss awareness, we should all work to change the stigmas around memory loss. Today, we’re sharing three ways to get started:
1. To discourage stigmas around memory loss, be open in conversation
With the rising rates of memory loss, it’s crucial that we develop a better cultural understanding of it and more empathy for those who live with memory loss . As that understanding evolves, feelings of shame will be less prevalent and individuals seeking memory care will become more empowered. If your family wants support, rather than judgment, one way you can invite positivity is to be more direct and open about the topic. Sharing experiences with memory loss is one of the best ways to help eliminate stigmas around memory loss, raise awareness and encourage the conversation to continue. Best of all, this helps more people understand the many options that are available.
2. Share medical facts
Talking about Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss in coded terms doesn’t help people who are unfamiliar with it develop a greater understanding of the condition, it only encourages existing stigmas around memory loss. Instead, those involved with memory care should share the facts, even if it means carrying pamphlets or recommending a favorite website. For supportive family members, this is a healthy way to help friends and relatives understand what your loved one is going through.
3. Use resources and support systems
A support group can be very helpful for the person living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of memory loss, especially if they receive an early diagnosis. A safe, caring space helps them see that they are not alone and their symptoms are not uncommon. Family members and caregivers might also benefit from support groups as a place to discover empathetic friends and new ideas for caregiving. Often, conversations in those settings leave people more confident about addressing the topic with others in their lives, so that they can better inform those that believe common stigmas around memory loss.
We offer a support group for families of residents with memory loss — contact us if you’re interested in learning more.
If you’re thinking about transitioning yourself or a loved one to a supportive or assisted living community, make sure you’re asking the right questions first. Download our free guide to help you get started. And, learn more about our community for long-term skilled nursing for advanced memory loss, Hartwell Place.
Adapted from a post by Janette Foley.