I was reading today’s newspaper and came across an item about dementia. Not for the first time it occurred to me that the term dementia has some sinister connotations, especially when you hear somebody describe as ‘demented’.
If you look up the word ‘demented’ in one dictionary, it says, “insane, mad; of unsound mind”. Another dictionary describes it as: 1. Suffering from dementia. 2. Driven to behave irrationally due to anger, distress, or excitement. This means that for some, saying that somebody is suffering from dementia, doesn’t necessarily trigger their sympathy response, which of course is grossly unfair to those suffering from this cruel disease.
There are a number of diseases and conditions that used to be called by names that we now considered unacceptable. Numerous charities for the disabled used to have the word cripple in their title. Scope used to be called The Spastic Society. Those born with Downs Syndrome used to be called Mongoloids because they looked like people born in northern Russia. These days most of us would consider these descriptions to be less than acceptable and that’s my point. Given the definitions for the word demented I’ve listed above, I think it’s high time somebody found a name for the condition that engendered sympathy rather than fear.