The Stigma of Alzheimer’s disease?~ Domenico Pratico, MD, FCPP

The Stigma of Alzheimer’s disease
As we continue our journey in search of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, I want to extend my admiration to the courageous individuals and families who are currently navigating the challenges posed by this illness. Progress towards a brighter future is rarely straightforward, and winning the war against Alzheimer’s involves more than just one battle. Each step forward is a collective effort, built upon the determination of those currently fighting and the legacy of those who have gone before us. Our combined energy and unwavering focus have a meaningful impact on the ultimate outcome.

It’s essential to recognize that Alzheimer’s disease faces unique challenges beyond the physical decline experienced by individuals living with the condition. Sadly, there are stigmas associated with the disease, whether on a societal or personal level, that continue to discourage open discussions about a diagnosis.

From an individual’s perspective, there may be a fear of how others will respond and whether revealing their diagnosis will lead to social isolation. Some people who learn about the diagnosis might avoid engaging in conversations or maintaining contact due to the fear of inadvertently saying something hurtful, unintentionally isolating the individual, or causing feelings of shame.

Individuals may also worry about being sidelined in their careers or excluded from decision-making processes due to assumptions about cognitive decline. Others may fear significant financial consequences associated with being labeled with a pre-existing condition. The impact of stigma and the complexities involved in overcoming it can be as challenging as dealing with the symptoms of the disease itself. To combat the disease effectively, we must simultaneously address and dismantle the stigma that surrounds it.

I want to express my support, admiration, and gratitude for every courageous individual, family, friend, or caregiver who takes on the battle against stigma, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

I also want to acknowledge the high-profile individuals who have bravely shared their own struggles. Despite facing their personal challenges, their openness and willingness to be vulnerable in front of the world contribute significantly to breaking down the walls of stigma, boosting research funding, and ultimately, inching closer to finding a cure.

To those high-profile figures who have made Alzheimer’s disease their platform, your unwavering support and commitment to creating spaces for candid conversations and awareness are greatly appreciated. Lastly, I want to thank every individual and their loved ones who valiantly demonstrate to the world the dignity and courage of living with and coping with this disease. Alzheimer’s affects brilliant minds, our dearest loved ones, people from all walks of life, and individuals from every corner of the globe.

While our primary goal is to find a cure, our battle must also include the eradication of the stigmas and isolation that often accompany this disease. We should not underestimate the power of openness, dialogue, and education. These formidable tools play a pivotal role in living with Alzheimer’s and in our collective pursuit of a cure.

Check out the recent blog: “What is Mild Cognitive Impairment?”

Domenico Praticò, MD, is the Scott Richards North Star Charitable Foundation Chair for Alzheimer’s Research, Professor and Director of the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple, and Professor of Pharmacology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

You can find out more information on Dr. Domenico Pratico’s research papers here.

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