For Dementia Awareness Month 2015, (otherwise Trademarked as World Alzheimer’s Month), and realising I have gone off track of the theme I was going to follow for #DAM2015, which was to be women and dementia, men and dementia, then families and dementia, children and dementia and so on, I thought I’d come back to this theme, at least vaguely!
It seems there are a lot of ageist attitudes in our society, and many older friends tell me, even something as simple as grey hair equates to poorer service, being ignored and almost blatant discrimination. I’ve not had a colour in my hair for almost 11 years, and am going grey slowly, so guess I have that to look forward to as well!
However, when we are younger, and have what is perceived in the public to be an ‘old persons disease’, the way we are viewed and treated is different for another illness. People with younger onset dementia experience the same ageist attitudes and discrimination as those who are actually older in age.
The stigma of dementia, is coupled with the stigma and ageism of what is seen an old persons disease.
There are, of course, very few services for younger people with dementia, that are truly age appropriate, although I am delighted to report this is slowly changing in the sector, and many aged care organisations are working hard, talking to younger people;e with dementia, in an effort to [provide age appropriate series and support. In the same way we would not put children into the adult ward or geriatric ward of a hospital, but into their own age appropriate paediatric wards, so it is with younger people with dementia.
By the way, I don’t think having dementia as a younger person is any worse than having it as an older person, just different. It is, after all, a terminal illness for all of us. It is just very different, and for younger people, we have the added ‘bonus’ of ageism being applied to us log before we are old.