Dr Kazuo Hasegawa, a leading dementia specialist, passed away in November and I wanted to share his story on Forward with Dementia as he was a pioneer in dementia research and treatment, and also helped to reduce dementia stigma in Japan.
I met Dr Hasegawa on several occasions at international conferences. He was well known for developing a scale for screening dementia, Hasegawa’s Dementia Scale, which has been widely accepted both for clinical use and epidemiological surveys in Japan.
Throughout his career as a psychiatrist, he worked with many people living with dementia and their families. He understood the difficulties they experienced and the stigma and prejudice they faced.
Hasegawa was on the government panel in 2004 that changed the Japanese word for dementia from ‘chiho’ which carried negative connotations to ‘ninchi-sho’, meaning cognitive disorder.
In 2017, Hasegawa himself was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 88. He was very open about his diagnosis, and even announced it at a conference we both attended. This was an important step which helped to further reduce stigma and demonstrated that even medical specialist can get dementia.
A recent article in the Japan News included some of Hasegawa’s inspirational statements after he was diagnosed. Hasegawa wanted to help others understand what it was like to have dementia, so I have shared some select quotes below:
Even though we have dementia, we don’t suddenly become a different person. The world where I live continues without a break before and after having dementia.”
I don’t want people to think that once they have dementia, it’s over for them.”
I don’t want the people around those who have dementia to abandon them as a person who is no longer capable of understanding anything anymore.”
I think it’s important to accept dementia caused by age as it is and live your own life as you are.”
Dr Hasegawa was an inspirational dementia specialist, improving diagnosis and treatment, and an outstanding dementia advocate, creating awareness and understanding and reducing stigma.
Many of Hasegawa’s sentiments and actions align with our objectives at Forward with Dementia – to improve diagnosis, and post-diagnostic support of people living with dementia and reduce negative stereotypes. The section below provides links to relevant articles of interest on this website
For more information
The following articles are helpful in relation to stigma and dementia, and managing how you want to be treated:
- 2.4 How you feel about yourself
- 2.5 Practice positive self-talk
- 2.7 Reactions of family and friends to the diagnosis
- 2.12 Manage stigma from others
- 2.13 Manage how you do and don’t want to be treated