January 26th is an important day for mental health awareness. It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day, which is an initiative to get people talking about mental health issues, raise awareness, and address the stigma associated with mental health.
Let’s Talk About Dementia and the Stigma Surrounding It
When it comes to mental health concerns that are not talked about, dementia certainly takes the cake. Nearly half of Canadians said they would “feel ashamed or embarrassed” if they had dementia; over 60% said they’d probably face discrimination if other people knew about it.
Stigma is one of the biggest challenges facing mental well-being: if people aren’t willing to talk about their health, they won’t get diagnosed or treated. So let’s talk about it.
Dementia Does NOT Mean a Life of Isolation and Deterioration
Having a mental illness is not the same as having bad mental health. With some effort and support, someone living with dementia can lead a happy, self-dependent life. Of course, there will be good days and bad days, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with the constant struggle of mental illness.
If you stop equating mental health and mental illness, then you’ll see it’s possible for a person with dementia to improve their mental health.
Dementia Cannot Be Treated with Anti-Psychotics – Though We Can’t Seem to Stop Trying
Mental illnesses can be treated, but dementia care is not that clear-cut. Older people with dementia react differently to medications: the pharmaceuticals used to treat other mental health issues can worsen dementia symptoms.
How dementia symptoms are treated can be a cause for concern itself. Nearly 30% of long-term care residents in Canada are prescribed anti-psychotics despite there being clear guidelines to the contrary. Anti-psychotics are considered a medicine of last resort (for certain symptoms), not a cure for the condition.
There is also a higher risk of hospitalization and injuries due to falls associated with this type of medication. If your loved one has been prescribed anti-psychotics (and you’re providing dementia care at home), it’s advisable to get in touch with a dementia caregiver near you. They’ll monitor your loved one’s health to ensure their safety around the house.
Dementia and You – the Caregiver
There’s no need to be shy – it’s okay to admit taking care of a loved one with dementia is taking a toll on you. Dementia caregivers have a high rate of burnout, making self-care so important.
Pay attention to signs of emotional and physical stress so you can get help when you need it. It’s why so many people favor calling professionals for dementia care at home. That way, you, the caregiver, can offload some of your responsibilities and prioritize more prized activities with your loved one.
Awareness About Dementia Care Starts with You
Talk to an experienced dementia caregiver near you in Oakville to understand how you can help your loved one better cope with the condition.
Do you want to get involved with Bell Let’s Talk? Click here to learn more: https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/ways-to-help.
For more specific guidance on dementia, we’ll be happy to answer your questions.