A good life with dementia in the CRD

October 15, 2019

People with dementia living in the Capital Regional District can experience threats to their independence and quality of life. This is due to societal norms that disable, disengage and disempower them, says Carolyn Brandly.  

Brandly, who recently completed her Master of Arts in Leadership with a health specialization at Royal Roads University, says these norms must change.

With the support of her program head and director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research, Prof. Elizabeth Hartney, Brandly will continue to develop her thesis research to end stigma and social exclusion, and support a good life for those living with dementia in communities across the CRD.

Now they also have the backing of a $16,805 grant from the Vancouver Foundation. Brandly and Hartney will continue working with the Alzheimer’s Society and people living with dementia to lay the groundwork for powerful social action needed to shift negative definitions and inaccurate assumptions, and develop the region as a good place to live with dementia.

“This is an example of how the Centre for Health Leadership and Research is empowering patients, families and communities,” says Hartney. “It’s wonderful to see student work such as Carolyn's making such a profound difference in our health system."

Brandly says the definition of a good life is one determined from the perspective of a person with dementia, “one who is empowered to live independently for as long as possible within an inclusive community that engages rather than disengages them as a whole person,” she says.

Brandly has worked in the aging and dementia field for more than 20 years. She says dementia is both a health and a social issue — and that it’s clearly time for action.

“Through the emergence of dementia-friendly communities worldwide, we are seeing a fundamental shift from simply meeting physical needs of people with dementia toward a holistic approach that can support them to achieve the highest quality of life possible,” says Brandly.

Brandly says people in the CRD have a great opportunity to create positive change across the region.

“Through examination of outdated norms, and education and training, we can begin to see people living with dementia in new ways.” she says. “Together, we can create innovative supports that increase a sense of belonging and quality of life for both people with dementia and family caregivers.”