Sunday 19 May 2013

Dementia - a time to "SHOUT" about it - and a time to change its name...

There are still far too many people who know little, if anything, about dementia. As soon as the word "dementia" is mentioned, they change the subject. Yet, these are the very people who will ultimately, either have a family member with dementia, or develop it themselves. How will they, and their families, deal with it, then?
I don't wish to go into medical details about dementia, that is for the experts, one of which I'm not. I am  a carer for my wonderful Mum, who has vascular dementia. She may be affected by the illnesses she has, diabetes, hypertension and hypothyroidism. However, she lives with dementia - for the most part, very happily, in her own little world that exists in her own mind, made up of past experiences and memories, and the love and kindness she receives now.

Dementia is not a disease! It is a combination of other factors and illnesses, that cause certain parts of the brain to cease functioning correctly. With help, knowledge and understanding, people living with dementia, can continue to lead a happy and contented life. Unfortunately, such help, knowledge and understanding is seriously lacking, throughout our society.

It is lacking in hospitals, care homes, GP's surgeries, work places, shops, and the wider community. If you tell someone your Mum has dementia, the first thing they are likely to say is, "Oh, I am sorry". Why? Why be sorry? There's is currently nothing that can be done about it. My Mum is still a person, she still has a personality. Yes, things are more difficult for her to do now, and this will only worsen over time. But, she still deserves the respect and kindness we all deserve.

My Mum is not, as the name dementia would imply, demented! A new term is needed. In the past it was referred to by the even more demeaning name, senile dementia. Senile was dropped - it is now time to drop dementia. Demeaning names for other conditions, have been dropped in favour of friendlier, more accurately descriptive names - from a designer's point of view, dementia needs a new, friendly, person centred brand.

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