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"Forward Thinking" - Colorado's New Dementia Outlook

Jun 15, 2018 by Comfort Keepers Denver

When the average person thinks of the word “elderly,” certain negative connotations and words may come to mind. One of the more common ones is the word “senile.”

In fact, even some laws use that phrasing to describe seniors with dementia, which shows both the prejudice against older age and the misunderstanding of dementia as a disease.

The elderly are seen as inherently senseless or grumpy, no longer useful to society, and even burdensome because of their potential need for care.

Colorado is working to make seniors with dementia less frowned upon in legal terms by changing the wording of its state laws.

The Nature of Dementia

Not only are they taking out the negative words, but they are also straying away from focusing on Alzheimer’s disease and instead encompassing all diseases that are affiliated with dementia.

This is the true nature of dementia – it is an umbrella term, not just a single disease. It comes in many forms, as side effects of other conditions, and can appear symptomatically different in different people.

This new wording more closely reflects the science behind dementia, instead of society’s stereotypes of it. It also gives these individuals the same legal status as those who live with a developmental/intellectual disability or a mental illness. It’s a huge step forward for the senior community and dementia patients.

University Center’s Name Change – Sort Of

One of the research centers at the medical school in Colorado used to be named Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center, or RMADC, but for official purposes is now being called the Dementia Diseases and Related Disabilities Treatment and Research Center.

However, to the public, the name RMADC will stick. Why is this the case?

The researchers say that when someone thinks of the word “dementia,” Alzheimer’s most commonly comes to mind. There’s still some work to be done in regards to educating the public on phrasing, so it makes sense to keep this well-known name for that purpose for now.

Hopefully Colorado inspires other states, even federal statutes, to change their phrasing too, as the number of Americans with dementia throughout all 50 states is on the rise.

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