Dementia is not a normal part of aging 

Dementia. It is not a specific disease but rather a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think or make decisions, which interferes with performing daily tasks. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Though dementia primarily affects older adults, it is not a normal part of aging. 

Eta Sigma Gamma held a workshop with Geri Svaleson and Kim Alinder from Dementia Friends to teach students about dementia and try to end its stigma and misinformation. Alinder said the group’s primary goal is to educate people on dementia. 

“We try to get them involved in the community and do things for people with dementia so that they do not feel left out,” said Alinder. “I think people shy away from wanting to be around people with dementia, and that’s one of the things we’re trying to get away from.” 

The event’s goal was to spread awareness and information about dementia. MSU student Chloe Koens attended this event for her professional operation group’s health class. She said she found this workshop informational. She also worked in a nursing home for about a year and worked with people who have memory issues. 

“I think it’s just good for people to learn about it as it’s a common disease,” said Koens. “I learned more about the signs and symptoms. If you don’t know if someone has dementia, you can recognize it that way.” 

Svaleson said people who live in independent living start showing signs of dementia; the workers didn’t want them there anymore. 

“They think it’s contagious. Like they don’t want to associate with people with dementia,” said Svaleson. 

Svaleson said she hoped people got a bunch out of their presentation and left with a better understanding of the disease. She also said she hoped they would become more involved with people with dementia and not shy away from them. 

“In some cases, we’re dealing with people that have family members or friends with dementia. We had one girl here whose grandma had it,” said Svaleson. “We want to help them understand how to communicate better with them and how to respond and keep patients when dealing with dementia.” 

There are many ways for people to learn about dementia and to end the stigma and miscommunication. Svaleson said that Dementia Friends has many resources for those wanting to learn. 

“We do a monthly recommendation of books and different activities that you can do with people,” said Svaleson. “Some books are written by people with dementia that would help you understand what they’re thinking.” 

Alinder said she recommends for those who are worried about getting dementia to “stay connected with people otherwise, it’s such an isolating disease.” 
DF offers many workshops and sessions for students who want to know more about this disease. To find a session or learn more about DF, head to

Header photo: Lauren Viska/The Reporter

Write to Lauren Viska at

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