Battle, Bravery, Suffering, Courage. These are words I have read and heard constantly since the world learned that Tony Bennet is living with Alzheimer’s Disease. With his final bow having taken place this month, some of those same statements have come back around. These words only reminded me of the great work ahead of us in terms of stigma and the narrative we create about living with dementia.
I went on a rant two weeks about this topic of stigma, and conversations surrounding the posting of that blog only intensified this past week. In that blog, I started asking the question about what can we do to help break down what seems to be this giant of a topic. Well, I firmly believe that while the academics and the professionals working in aging and dementia hold the keys to many aspects of the solution, the media and the words they use in print and voice are the stepping stone we all need to reach the lock. If our media started changing the language they use our ears will catch on, we will start repeating the words we hear about dementia, the tone, the respect, and that will go a long way.
So, battle, bravery, suffering, courage. It is time it becomes living with dementia.* That does not negate the suffering and courage that goes alongside the dementia journey, but it puts it in the context of respect.
*Please note that this is a much larger conversation, and these words are still not enough, but we have always tried to change the narrative from the 10,000-foot view. Maybe it is time we start at the arm’s length view.