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Powerful Alzheimer's ad campaign goes viral

Last Updated Jan 7, 2016 at 7:57 pm EST

A new Alzheimer’s Society of Canada campaign with a powerful message is gaining traction online.

The tagline, and the hashtag, is “#StillHere. The point of the campaign is that even though someone is living with dementia, they are still a person.

In the video below, a woman says her friends became more distant once they learned she had Alzheimer’s. In another case, a man with dementia is the greeter at his local church, and his wife is left fielding questions like, “How can he do that? He has Alzheimer’s.”

Click here to view the video on mobile.

The “Still Here” campaign launched on Monday to mark Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. The society wants to tell Canadians that those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can still be a part of their communities.

“Words and actions are powerful and can change the story of dementia,” Mimi Lowi-Young, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Canada, said in a statement.

“That’s the goal of our campaign, to dispel the myths around what it means to live with dementia and encourage all of us to see the person beyond the condition.”

To that end, the society has created an online quiz, where Canadians can test their basic knowledge about Alzheimer’s.

“People with dementia can continue to engage with the world in many meaningful ways,” Pia Kontos, a senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network, said in a statement.

“Our cognitive abilities alone do not define us … Supporting the dignity and worth [of those living with Alzheimer’s] improves their well-being and quality of life.”

Alzheimer’s disproportionally affects women. Women represent 72 per cent of Canadians living with Alzheimer’s, and account for 70 per cent of family caregivers. There are currently 747,000 Canadians living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias today, and that number is expected to increase to 1.4 million in the next 15 years.