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There is limited information on the experience of Indigenous people with dementia. Through our Aging and Dementia Programs, we aim to provide strengths-based, community, and person-centred support to people living with dementia and their caregivers. We also wish to reduce the stigma that surrounds dementia.
One of our programs for Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse caregivers for people living with dementia is called Supporting a Circle of Care: A Culturally-Informed Support Group and Toolkit for Indigenous Caregivers of People Living with Dementia. This program is designed to clarify needs, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours surrounding dementia while raising awareness in the Indigenous population. Funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), it currently operates in four rural, remote Indigenous communities. We use a strengths-based, community, and person-centred approach to help caregivers improve their mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Through the support group and the culturally safe toolkit, participants develop skills to improve their ability to care for their aging loved ones. They also learn the importance of self-care. Communities are able to refine and expand the support group and toolkit to meet their specific needs.
Another program, also funded by PHAC, is called Stigma: An Exploration of Lived Experiences, Understanding, Behaviours of Dementia within Indigenous Communities. There are two phases to this program: capacity-building, raising awareness. We are using a distinctions-based approach to build understanding of the needs, experiences, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours of Indigenous communities around stigma. We will then leverage existing strengths and resources to establish strength-based, distinction-based, community-led, culturally relevant resources designed to combat stigma and encourage dementia inclusiveness.