Sunday, 22 May 2016

The way the media portray dementia

We need a balanced view of dementia from the media. The smiley grey-haired little old lady and her smiley carer should share the billing with the tormented, paranoid, and violently aggressive person.

We need an understanding that, whilst some people suffering with dementia do die a horrible death others pass away peacefully.

We need it made clear whether they are talking about dementia (a condition which can have many causes) or Alzheimer's (which is now an umbrella term for a growing number of diseases).

In fact we need, and the media should help with this too, to put the word 'Alzheimer's' into the dustbin of history where it belongs, as an outdated description of lots of different diseases. Dr Alzheimer discovered a lot about a specific case of a disease affecting a person in middle age and I'm sure he would be amazed to learn that his name is used as to cover so many different diseases and, often, as a synonym for dementia, which is not a disease but a condition caused by many different diseases. No wonder people are confused about things when the name is used so lazily and ignorantly.

Perhaps most importantly, what cannot be overemphasised is that everyone is different and no two people with dementia have the same journey, though there will always be some similarities between them and  a lot of other people and reading about how other people and their carers are dealing with the issues as they arise can be tremendously helpful.

(We are coming to the end of Dementia Awareness Week in the UK and this post was prompted by some of the media coverage.)

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