Words Matter: Dementia

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Addressing the stigma of dementia starts by having a more person-centered focus. One of the best ways to change our focus is by thinking deeply about the language we use. WORDS MATTER.

We must move away from language that “de-humanizes” people with dementia. Describing people with dementia as “victims”, “suffering,” and “demented,” is totally unacceptable. There may be times during their dementia journey when there is suffering, however, simply having a dementia diagnosis does not mean a person is immediately or regularly suffering.

Other inappropriate phases include: half gone, empty shell, behavior problem, wanderer. Acceptable Words to use when referring to a person with dementia: “Person living with dementia (people with dementia)”; “Person living with Lewy Body Dementia,” etc.; “People with dementia” (PWD)
The goal is to move away from words that describe a person living with dementia by their diagnosis or limitations. Individuals living with dementia regularly say they want to live a great life, optimize their strengths, learn and develop new skills, have educated care partners who have learned how to support and empower them, including direct care workers, physicians, and providers.

What are you and your organization doing to change the language you use about dementia?

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