RECOGNIZING STIGMA & DISCRIMINATION

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In order to recognize when you are experiencing stigma and discrimination, it can be helpful to know what it is. Here are some descriptions that people with dementia have developed:

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STIGMA

STIGMA occurs when other people make assumptions about a person based on their actions and/or appearance. This can be compounded when people find out that you have a diagnosis of dementia, and then they make assumptions based on that diagnosis alone.

DISCRIMINATION

DISCRIMINATION occurs when others act on assumptions in a way that leads to the person with dementia being treated as incapable, and feeling judged or deficient in some way. 

People may not be intending to stigmatize and discriminate and there are many reasons why this occurs.  For example, people may lack knowledge or awareness about dementia, or may be generalizing their assumptions based on their experiences with one person, or from depictions in the media.

Irrespective of the intent, stigma and discrimination can result in someone living with dementia questioning their own worthiness and competence. It is important to realize that when you experience stigma and discrimination, it’s not about you personally, it’s about the other person's assumptions.

Here are some examples that different people with dementia have shared. You may have had similar experiences or ones that are uniquely different to you. Whether or not you share in the experiences included below, there is power in recognizing and naming stigma and discrimination.

To hear audio recordings of stories from the Action Group here are

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*Please know it might be distressing to hear examples of stigma and discrimination, especially if you recognize that this has happened to you.

 
…my best friend used to come with me (to the doctor’s office) and the doctor talked to her all the time and I just got so fed up I didn’t go with her anymore, I went by myself. And he had to take his time explaining to me, but I asked him just go slow and I’ll get it eventually I’ll get it…

- Marcia -

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