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I Have Alzheimer’s or Another Dementia
Will New DSM-5 Diagnosis End 'Dementia' Stigma?
From Alzheimer's Daily News:
(Source: Huffington Post) - Marguerite Manteau-Rao writes, "If one day I get diagnosed with Alzheimer's or another type of dementia, I don't want to be told that I am 'demented,' or that I have 'dementia'."
Dementia is a loaded word that carries with it the baggage of hundreds of years of gross associations and misunderstanding of the reality of the person living with the illness. Its Latin root originally meaning "madness. Similarly, "demented" is synonym with "mad," "crazy," "insane," "lunatic."
An estimated 5.4 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's dementia, that's a lot of people unjustly deemed crazy.
Hope is on the horizon thanks to the work from the DSM-5 task force. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the reference book used by medical and mental health professionals to diagnose Alzheimer's and other types of dementia. Proposed changes include replacing the "dementia" name in favor of the new term, "major neurocognitive disorder" (MNCD).
This rewording focuses on decline (rather than deficit - consistent with the requirement in the basic definition of an acquired disorder) from a previous level of performance. The new definition, consistent with DSM-wide changes, focuses first on performance rather than disability.
Go to full story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com
Technically dementia is not madness. "De" means less, or loss. "Mentia" means mentation, or cognition. Dementia means loss of cognition, just as multiple sclerosis is a "demyelinating" disease, meaning loss of myelin, the covering sheath of nerve tissue.
Having said all that, I'm in favor of changing to "neurocognitive disorder." That would help me out a lot, because I have, and have had a neurocognitive disorder for twenty-four years. I've lost the cognitive function that I used to have to a major degree. But since what I have does not appear to fit the commonly accepted definition of Alzheimer's disease, I'm not eligible for the resources I need.
To me as a patient, the term "dementia" announces to the public that one is mentally vulnerable. This is an open invitation to hucksters and other people who are up to no good and want to take advantage.
The term dementia doesn't bother me for diagnosic purposes, but it does for social purposes. In other words, I can accept it to myself but I'm not going to tell the world I have dementia.
Iris, your points basically sum up my feelings on the subject of Dementia. Thank you for you added moment!