Silvia Perel-Levin is the Chair of the NGO Committee on Ageing in Geneva advocating for the human rights of older persons. She is also an independent consultant on ageing, health and communication.
She will appear as a panellist during ADI’s joint webinar with Dementia Alliance International (DAI) on 27 February.
“While dementia is not an inevitable result of ageing, people with dementia are likely to experience a double stigma, with the distinction between dementia stigma and ageism becomes blurred.
Growing old does not mean that we cannot do the things we like doing. However, the assumption that the decline is inevitable translates into prejudice and discrimination affecting all aspects of our daily lives. We are stripped of our rights in arbitrary ways on a routine basis based on wrong assumptions. We become invisible sufferers of social injustice.
In last year’s World Alzheimer’s Report, ADI looked at how dementia-related stigma is defined and how we can better understand it through its relation to power, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination. Within the report, some of the expert essays and case studies examined this further by shedding light on the complexity of stigma.
Ruth Stone, Global Communications and Digital Manager, and Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change Global, contributed the case study, ‘Challenging stigma in mental health: What we’ve learnt over 10 years’. The piece looks at progress and continuing barriers for what is so well described as “the work of a generation”.
Ending mental health stigma is the work of a generation. I think that’s the most important thing we’ve learnt since starting Time to Change more than 10 years ago.
Stigma is deeply ingrained, through cultural norms, families, workplace culture, the media and even the words we speak. It is present at almost every level of society, which means our work takes time, perseverance, and a broad, flexible approach.