Loneliness in persons living with dementia is a chronic and systemic issue in British Columbia and beyond. A webinar hosted by a Maple Ridge woman is being held Tuesday, Dec. 15. (Special to The News)

Loneliness in persons living with dementia is a chronic and systemic issue in British Columbia and beyond. A webinar hosted by a Maple Ridge woman is being held Tuesday, Dec. 15. (Special to The News)

Locally hosted webinar on dementia and culture draw national attention

Marissa Stalman, working with United Way, is hosting an awareness event Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Maple Ridge has received attention on the global stage for the dementia awareness webinar being hosted Tuesday.

Marissa Stalman, a Simon Fraser University master’s student and former nurse, is hosting an interactive, awareness raising event about cultural awareness in dementia care.

She’s bringing together four panelists to increase awareness about the diversity of people living with the disease.

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“I am hosting this… because I believe that love can be spread and multiplied through knowledge dissemination, education and storytelling,” the Maple Ridge woman explained.

The purpose, Stalman said, is not to generalize based on culture and ethnicity, nor to segregate individuals in any way.

“This webinar is meant to increase our awareness about the need to personalize dementia care—both for the person living with dementia and their family/carers/caregivers,” she said.

The free session, happening from 1 to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

“I applied to the United Way Lower Mainland for a Local Love grant with the hopes of organizing a webinar that would draw attention to different ways that dementia may be experienced, lived, and understood in some of B.C.’s visible ethnocultural minority groups.”

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The panelists include registered clinical counsellor Nadine Jans, medical anthropologist and social gerontologist Dr. Sharon Koehn, retired licenced practical nurse Alice Lung, and Coast Salish elder Kat Norris.

They will be sharing their lived experiences, research findings, methods, and personal stories.

“In the context of the current pandemic, we have seen that our elders have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 — particularly those in long-term care,” Stalman said.

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“Incredible efforts are being made by our communities to protect our most vulnerable from the virus. But, we cannot forget that dementia is not on lock-down. Thousands of Canadians are living with the realities of dementia every day. Now is the time to engage in conversations that have the potential to improve our understandings, not only of dementia, but of the individuals whose lives have been impacted by it.”

Details about the webinar are available online.

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