The Stigma of Dementia

 In Series on dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, Videos


Individuals who are living with dementia and those who support them face many challenges. In addition to their cognitive symptoms and health challenges, they very often deal with stigma, isolation and the negative attitudes and beliefs that are prevalent in the general public and in the media.

What is STIGMA?

“Stigma is an attribute, behavior, or reputation, which is socially discrediting in a particular way: it causes an individual to be mentally classified by others in an undesirable, rejected stereotype rather than in an accepted, normal one.”

Alzheimer’s Disease International


Alzheimer’s Disease International is the federation of Alzheimer associations worldwide, whose vision is an improved quality of life for people with dementia and their families. They conducted a worldwide survey to find out about stigma from people with dementia and their caregivers. Findings released in the World Alzheimer Report 2012: “Overcoming the Stigma of Dementia,” indicate that stigma and social isolation are major barriers.

  • Nearly one in four people with dementia hide or conceal their diagnosis, citing stigma as the main reason.
  • Forty percent of people with dementia report not being included in everyday life.
  • People with dementia and caregivers feel marginalized by society, sometimes by their own friends and family members.
  • What they want is to be treated like normal people with a focus on their abilities and not on their impairments.
  • Stigma could be a major barrier to finding solutions for the problems related to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, including low rates of diagnosis and service utilization

Here’s what you can do:

  • Think about and challenge stigma. Learning that people can live fully with dementia is an antidote to the misperceptions and stigma about dementia.
  • You have everything within you to help people LIVE WELL with dementia!
  • Create a conversation to raise awareness about positive approaches to dementia care and support.

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