The Stigma of Dementia: Is the Fog Finally Lifting?

If you haven’t seen this recent article from Kiplinger’s Retirement Report titled “Finding a New Path with Dementia,” it’s well worth the read, especially if you or someone in your family is grappling with dementia in one of its many forms and stages.

For decades, a painful social stigma has been associated with dementia and its most extensive form, Alzheimer’s. For that matter, virtually every mental disability suffers from such a stigma.



You may remember that when my wife Martha was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1997 she had just turned 50 and the first thing she told me after a long hard cry was this: “I do NOT want to tell anyone. Not our children. Not my parents or my brothers. And certainly not any of our friends.”

That was a difficult request to honor. Within a few weeks Martha did agree to tell our three kids who still were in high school and college. And while word eventually did get out, Martha and I continued to pretend that no one knew but us.

This Kiplinger story is an excellent representation of the growing movement to support and embrace those living with dementia and their care partners. By comparison, the era when Martha was diagnosed not that long ago feels like the dark ages. There’s still a lot of work to do, however. Too many people still feel isolated, alone, and burned out.

I’ll be surprised if you don’t agree with my reaction to this article.

Carlen Maddux

PS1  My book A Path Revealed: How Hope, Love, and Joy Found Us Deep in a Maze Called Alzheimer’s can be ordered from any bookstore or found on Amazon.

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PS2 As usual, feel free to forward this post to your friends and family. If you’d like to sign up for my blog, it’s free; just click here.

PS3 I’m sticking this 65-cent Alzheimer’s fundraising stamp on all my mail. It was introduced Nov. 30, 2017. Through its first six months, 3-million stamps have been sold to raise $404,000 for Alzheimer’s research; these net proceeds go to the National Institutes of Health. Using these stamps one-by-one can add up: the cancer fundraising stamp, which has been out for several years, has to date sold 1.037-billion stamps and raised $87-million for research. Join me and thousands of others to Help Stamp Out Alzheimer’s; our goal is to raise $1-million by the end of 2018.

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