How can a gallery or museum program reduce stigma? Everyone has a role to play. The best ways to fight against stigma are to think of the person first, to model positive attitudes and actions, to encourage and celebrate participation, and to amplify the lived experiences of people living with dementia.
When people living with dementia feel understood, supported, and included, they participate in their community. Seeing them as active participants in gallery and museum programs or as regular visitors can change their own sense of ability and (inclusion) as well as the perception that others have of them.
When organizations become educated about dementia, they are able to create opportunities for participation and inclusion. When they centre the experiences of people with dementia in their mandates, operations and activities, they become inclusive.
When members of the public see people living with dementia as active members of a community, the public’s preconceptions change, and stigma-based ideas are reduced. Here’s how you can be welcoming to persons with dementia:
There is a saying that is used across many inclusive practices: “Never about us, without us”. Persons with dementia must have a voice to share their lived experiences to inform decisions and designs about and for them, to teach others, and to inform our understanding of their interests and needs.