Building acceptance
Executive Director Alzheimer Society of Cornwall and District Shelley Vaillancourt and SDSG MPP Jim McDonnell are pictured at the presentation of a $100,000 provincial grant to help create Dementia Friendly Communities.      Courtesy photo

CORNWALL – On April 27, the Alzheimer Society of Cornwall and District received a grant for $100,000 from the Ministry of Seniors Affairs to develop 50 new Dementia Friendly Communities and train 2,000 people within neighbourhoods, organizations, businesses, workplaces and services within the Champlain region.

Research has shown that while awareness about dementia has increased, stigma and negative attitudes around it continue to persist.

A leger-led survey, which questioned 1,500 Canadians between the ages of 18 and 65 online, reveals that 46 per cent of respondents would feel ashamed or embarrassed if they had dementia, while 61 per cent of those surveyed said they would face discrimination of some kind. The survey also shows that one in four Canadians believe that their friends and family would avoid them if they were diagnosed with dementia, and only five per cent of Canadians would learn more about dementia if a family member, friend or co-worker were diagnosed.

One in five individuals would avoid seeking help for as long as possible if they thought they had dementia, to avoid the associated stigma. This is something that a community has the power to change. Thanks to this grant, the Alzheimer Society can offer this training for free to any organization, business, service provider wanting to become dementia-friendly.

The Cornwall region has shown leadership by participating in a pilot effort last year. The Alzheimer Society provided valuable Dementia Friendly Community (DFC) training to its first responders, city employees, a tourist attraction, and a pharmacy, which then helped them to better understand dementia and to feel more confident offering assistance to those who are living with dementia and their carers. Each of these groups has modified their customer service principles to enhance communication strategies when interacting with someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and they have expressed feeling more confident understanding what dementia is and how it impacts people.

With this recent grant from the Ministry of Seniors Affairs, the Alzheimer Society aims to expand on the success of the pilot efforts in Cornwall and extend the program to support those who live with dementia throughout the Champlain Region. The knowledge gained from the training sessions will be shared with other Alzheimer Societies throughout Ontario so they can do the same in their own communities.

All inquiries to become a DFC are welcome by the AS of Cornwall and District.

The Alzheimer Society is now accepting applications from businesses, organizations, workplaces, neighbourhoods, etc., in Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry, Prescott, Russell and Akwesasne. Those who receive the free three-hour training session are formally recognized as a Dementia Friendly Community and will be provided with DFC decals to display in their windows, they will be highlighted on Ontario’s DFC microsite and most importantly they will become better equipped to support this growing need in our community.

Contact the Alzheimer Society at 613 932-4914 or for more information or to apply to become an official Dementia Friendly Community.