Sadly, American actor Shannen Doherty revealed this week she is living with stage four breast cancer. Although admitting this is “a bitter pill to swallow in many ways,” she added, “Life doesn’t end the minute we get that diagnosis. We still have some living to do.”
Individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia often expressed similar sentiments. The moment they reveal their diagnosis, people look at them differently, make the assumption they are no longer trustworthy, and immediately propel them to the disease’s end stage trajectory. Tragically, the stigma of dementia dismisses the many years of quality living that are available to them before the disease reaches its final stages.
It is possible to live well and long with Alzheimer’s disease or memory loss from other medical conditions—if individuals and their families are given high-quality education, appropriate support, meaningful purpose, and hope. At Memory Café of the Red River Valley, our mission is to help provide these things, and to remind these individuals they are still significant and valued members of the F-M community. We are redefining memory loss. To learn more, please find us on Facebook, Instagram or www.MemoryCafeRRV.org.
Kaul and Ustanko are co-founders of Memory Cafe of the Red River Valley.