Language is our unique human gift and our most powerful means of communication.
Words can inform and comfort us, excite and thrill us, warm our hearts and inflame our desires. Words can also slap and punch us, rattle our nerves, discourage our initiative and destroy our self-confidence. We react physically and emotionally to what is said to us and about us. How language is used can affect us as powerfully as physical actions. This is the power of words. Language used to describe Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias has historically been largely negative, focusing on the losses experienced by the person living with dementia. While these losses are real, this negativity has contributed to the development and promotion of perceptions, interpretations and approaches to care that focus on weakness rather than strength, illness rather than wellness and victims rather than whole persons.
Published in 2012, this article remains a valuable guide to fixing our language biases against dementia. Click here for the full PDF.