Sunday 19 May 2013

Dementia - change the name, and change the game...

For far too long, there has been too much of a stigma surrounding the word "dementia". There is still the opportunity for a radical name change - to remove the stigma of dementia, and enable communities to embrace those who have it, so that those with dementia, can once more become widely accepted as important and integral to our society.

A similar exercise, surrounding those with cerebral palsy - in the past referred to as "spastics" in the UK - resulted in the Spastics Society changing its name to Scope, in 1994 - the word spastic then gradually fell out of use, and cerebral palsy became the accepted term.

If society is going to successfully accept that dementia exists, and that those with it can still live a happy and contented life, and indeed continue to integrate with society - such a similar name change is well overdue.

Many people are aware of Alzheimer's (even if they don't know what it is), and Alzheimer's alone, is but one of the many causes of dementia. Many organisations around the world already use the name Alzheimer's, yet also include all other forms of dementia, as part of their agenda.

Perhaps the name Alzheimer's, being so well known, could become an "umbrella" name for all forms of dementia (in many ways it already is). Unfortunately, Alzheimer's also suffers from the same stigmas as dementia.

With an umbrella name (X), the various forms of dementia could be re-named - X Vascular, X Lewy Body, X Pick's, X Early Onset, X Proteopathic (true Alzheimer's) etc.

The name Alzheimer's, from a design and PR point of view, is already well known, and has well established and associated colours and images. "Forget-me-not", is both a phrase, along with related images (forget-me-nots and purple ribbons), and colours (blue and purple), already in use, and widely known.

This is but one proposal to try to end the stigma of dementia. There may well be other solutions, but the brief remains the same - "Dementia - change the name, and change the game"...

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