Over the years, it has come to my attention that others speak about me as one of the #DementiaLanguagePolice. There are many of us around the world, and we constantly have to put up with being labelled sufferers of dementia, even when most of the time, we are more often suffering because of this label, and the poor care, or no care received after our diagnosis. We also suffer due to those who accuse us of lying, or who persist in saying “But you don’t look like you have dementia.”
A recent article in the Huffington Post was the third example of being collectively labelled as sufferers in as many days! When will people without dementia start respecting people living with dementia? I can’t speak for others with dementia on this one, but feel free to call me retarded if you wish, as personally, that offends me far less than being labelled a dementia sufferer. Many of the advocacy organisations also advocate for this change, and many have Dementia language guidelines, but still, too often those in the media refuse to change…
Chris Roberts has said publicly at a conference I attended some years ago; ‘I may suffer some of the time, but do not label me a sufferer.’ Many have spoken about how offensive this is, long before I became a dementia activist. Helga Rohra speaks about it, as does Keith Oliver, Christine Bryden, Wendy Mitchell, Mick Carmody, Brian Le Blanc and SO MANY OTHERS… The late Peter Ashleigh and Dr Richard Taylor also spoke strongly on this topic.
Disrespectful language contributes significantly to the stigma, discrimination and isolation we continue to experience, and this is supported not only with vast amounts of anecdotal and anthropological evidence, but also with a significant amount of evidence based research.
Please… the time is now for respectful language.