Aging poses a universal challenge, and for 2SLGBTQI people, it comes with an increased risk of cognitive decline. In light of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month this January, Egale Canada in partnership with Fondation Émergence and the National Institute on Ageing (NIA) has launched the Help Us Remain Campaign to urge Canadians to take a closer look at a community facing a hidden battle. Through an extensive research report, short film and immersive audio gallery, the campaign raises awareness of the need for tailored, inclusive healthcare support to preserve the identities and dignity of 2SLGBTQI people living with dementia.
More than seven percent of 2SLGBTQI people in Canada are over 65 and are part of a generation that experienced both historical discrimination and transformative victories for their rights in Canada. The resulting cultural trauma of a life impacted by stigma and violence makes this community susceptible to chronic minority stress which can result in a higher risk of premature cognitive decline, including dementia.
Research by Egale and the NIA reveals that 2SLGBTQI people living with dementia often experience heightened displacement and suffering within the healthcare system, which underscores the necessity for increased support. Critical findings focus on the support needed to navigate change in caring relationships, acknowledge the diversity and fluidity of identities, and deliver a comprehensive range of services for both 2SLGBTQI people living with dementia and their caregivers.
Egale’s Help Us Remain Campaign brings this community issue to the forefront by revealing the untold stories of 2SLGBTQI people across Canada who are living with or have a connection to dementia.
Egale provides a variety of educational resources to help support these communities, including 2SLGBTQI Identity and Dementia e-modules, resources for unpaid carers and the research report titled Coming Out and Coming In to Living with Dementia: Enhancing Support for 2SLGBTQI People Living with Dementia and their Primary Unpaid Carers. This report provides insight into the increased risks of cognitive decline and an honest examination of the challenges and necessary improvements for 2SLGBTQI people living with dementia.
Short Film Titled Help Us Remain
The short film Help Us Remain is a cinematic exploration of Ann, a trans woman who is battling early-onset dementia while trying to hold onto the identity she fought for. As she reflects on her life’s journey, her partner must advocate for the gender-affirming care she can no longer advocate for on her own.
Immersive Audio Gallery
The immersive audio gallery will be open to the public from January 27, 2024 at The 519, a charitable, non-profit organization supporting the 2SLGBTQI community in Toronto. The gallery explores ten personal images paired with evocative memories from 2SLGBTQI communities that demonstrate the importance of queer memories and illuminate the concerns around cognitive decline and dementia. Visitors can also watch the campaign’s short film that will be played throughout the gallery’s opening to the public.
“We need people to help us advocate for safe spaces. So we can age without fear – we shouldn’t have to go back into the closet, we shouldn’t have to hide,” said Sharon, a 2SLGBTQI community member featured in the campaign, whose partner has dementia. “Having other people speak up for us is one amazing way that you can honour us and another way is to connect with us – hear what we need and our stories, which is what this project is about. I need you to remember the passion that we had for justice and the energy we spent on trying to make the world a better, kinder place – the risks we took every day to keep fighting in hopes of making the world safer for you. Now we need you to take care of us, to speak up for us and fight for us.”
To listen to the audio stories, watch the short film and access educational resources, visit www.egale.ca/dementia.
This project was made possible with support from The Public Health Agency of Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.