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January Is Alzheimer Awareness Month

One in four people diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease will conceal their diagnosis. January is Alzheimer Awareness month, and this year, officials are hoping to end the stigma and misconceptions you may have about the disease. Beth Haas with the Oxford County Alzheimer Society says people with dementia can be misunderstood by their own family and friends. "A lot of people, once they are diagnosed, hold that diagnosis close because they are worried about people's reactions. But once they do start confiding they are faced with some misconceptions. A lot of people assume that right away, you are irresponsible, you shouldn't continue driving, you can't read anymore, whereas, it's actually a long progression." Haas says people can have dementia for a decade or longer before they start to lose some of their day-to-day functionality. She's encouraging people to become more knowledgeable about the disease that's affecting a growing number of Canadians. Last year, Oxford County saw a 250% increase in referrals in their first quarter, over the same period of 2011. Haas says there are a number of contributing factors, "The demographics are changing. The baby boom generation are growing older, people are living longer, doctors are much more aware of what to look for and diagnoses are occurring earlier on in the progression of the disease." And so, Haas says education is key for an issue that's growing exponentially. "We're hoping to make this (Alzheimer Disease) as much of a household name, or word as 'Cancer' is. These are people that still need to be treated with respect and dignity." The Society also has it's Walk for Memories coming up this month. 40% of the Alzheimer Society funding comes through donations and fundraising.

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