In November 2012 I received this in an email from a friend with dementia: “Hi all, I have a huge problem with names, is there any way that a thumbnail could accompany emails so I know who I’m talking with?” In my list of contacts, and apart from me, the only person to have done this is Richard Taylor, although I’m not sure if it was in direct response to this request. I implore everyone to do this.
Two years ago I added this photograph to my email footer, and my dear husband designed a business card for me with a photograph because the Christmas 2011 season found me struggling to know who had sent us cards. It was almost exclusively only the cards from people who had added their last names and/or included a photograph of themselves that I could easily recall. Again this year, there were cards from people I simply cannot remember, and it was more noticeable than two years ago.
For some reason, I struggled a little with the idea of adding a photograph to my email footer, or having a business card when I’m not officially in business. I’ve even had a few people say I am being ‘over the top’ and pretentious having my photograph on my email footer and on a card. These very same people have Facebook and LinkedIn pages, with photographs of themselves everywhere, as well as adding personal details and CV information of their achievements. No more or less pretentious than having a portrait photograph on my email footer…
As a society we are all happy to accommodate the physical or intellectual disAbilities of others. It is now also time to consider the disAbilities of people with dementia, the language used to write about us or talk to or about us, and the services provided for us. People with dementia are not “vacant dements” as I read in a research article written in 2012, we are real human beings, who still feel and love, with the right to the same respect and privileges afforded to everyone else.