The Stigma of Living with Dementia

The Stigma of Living with Dementia

By: Joe Cuticelli
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New blog series seeks to raise awareness and lessen the stigma of living with #dementia @sodexoUSA #alzheimers

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Joe Cuticelli, CEO, Seniors Sodexo North America

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 3:35pm


This is the first blog in a continuing series based on the findings from the Institute for Quality of Life’s roundtable on memory care. Read the full whitepaper: “Treat me like a person, because that is what I still am.”

Dementia is perceived differently by different people. Broadly, dementia refers to a decline in mental ability serious enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform common activities. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that one in nine Americans over the age of 65 is impacted by dementia. As the 75 million baby boomers (ages 51-69) grow older, the number of Americans with dementia will significantly increase.

As a result, dementia caregiving is an issue that Sodexo is paying close attention to. Sodexo cares for more than 90,000 seniors in North America. This means we contribute to the quality of life for seniors in retirement communities or in their homes, providing customized services and attentive care every day.

This past May, the Sodexo Institute for Quality of Life partnered with Planetree, a not-for-profit organization that collaborates with healthcare organizations around the world and across the care continuum to transform how care is delivered.  We hosted a roundtable to discuss the state and future of memory care, quality of life and the progress of people living with dementia. This event  featured thought leaders from influential organizations in the senior care space, including Aging 2.0, Alzheimer’s Association, Dementia Action Alliance, Leading Age, as well as academic institutions whose research helps to advance the body of knowledge around dementia.

One of the key topics addressed the stigma attached to the word “dementia.” Alzheimer’s Disease International found that three-quarters of those with dementia and two-thirds of caregivers said that others perceive those with dementia negatively.

Not only can this stigma impede seniors from seeking diagnosis and care it can impact how healthcare professionals provide care. Further, some people believe that dementia is a normal part of aging. That’s not true.

However, the right diagnosis leads to the right care. With proper assessment, individuals impacted by dementia can be directed to the proper care and services to optimize their quality of life.

As a leader in Quality of Life services, Sodexo is committed to creating senior living environments to assist those with dementia. This includes facilitating social interactions among those with dementia such as seating residents with similar cognitive function levels together, creating a dining experience that makes the residents feel comfortable, and ensuring staff members are trained to positively manage interactions with the residents.

By optimizing the quality of life for people impacted by dementia, we can help lessen the stigma around the condition.  The Alzheimer’s Association shares that the stigma is partly due to a lack of public awareness and understanding of the condition. To that end, this blog series will seek to raise awareness around:

  • Stages of Dementia and Relationship to Quality of Life
  • Common Responses to Dementia
  • How We Can Focus on Quality of Life to Mitigate Dementia
  • Making Quality of Life a Priority for Those Living with Dementia

If you know someone impacted by dementia, please share your insights on how to improve the quality of life for others affected  by this condition.