From rhetoric to reality…

When I was 15 years old, I was elected as a school Captain, and that year wrote an essay titled “Girls and women as leaders: from Rhetoric to Reality.” I had probably read the term ‘Rhetoric to Reality’ somewhere in my readings, as back then I read many books each week for pleasure, as well as for school. I’ve still got that hand written essay somewhere in my files, and was then, and am now still quite proud of it. The  term ‘from rhetoric to reality’ has been used by many, but not often until the last few years by people talking about dementia.

A dear friend and academic in dementia used the word rhetoric in a blog about dementia in 2015. Then, DAI, the global organisation for people used it in their first official HR publication titled, The Human Rights of people with dementia: from Rhetoric to Reality.

DAI has been instrumental in taking the human rights approach to dementia into the forefront having placed it on the global stage at the WHO First Ministerial Conference in Dementia in March 2015, and at many events after that. DAI has significantly helped to move changes on dementia from rhetoric to reality, on the global and local stages. We may not have started it, but DAI has certainly pushed hard to move human rights, CRPD and dementia from rhetoric to reality.

In googling the term ‘from rhetoric to reality’, it is clear it has been used many times before, including long before those of us in the dementia sector started using. It was used in 1979, 2004, 2012, and also by me in 1972.

During this World Alzheimer’s Month, where awareness raising campaigns and Dementia Friendly Community campaigns and initiatives are all around us, I have a dream that one day, we will move from rhetoric to reality in this space as well. For now, the people most benefiting from these campaigns are people without dementia, and my position remains the same on this. Until people with dementia are employed in the DFC campaigns and initiatives, I personally will continue to critique their real value…

Not employing people with dementia in these initiatives may well be partly what is keeping the stigma, discrimination, isolation and myths alive, as indirectly, it implies we are not capable. More food for thought.

Ps. The image used here today was taken by a dear friend, also my first nursing girlfriend, Jacinta Lynch. Thanks Jac xxx


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