Preventing Bias Against People With Alzheimer’s Disease

Preventing Bias Against People With Alzheimer’s Disease
Ageism is brutal, especially when combined with a misunderstanding of dementia. Somehow, rude people forget that they will one day get old. If we’re fortunate, growing older is the road ahead for us all. It should be everyone’s goal, since growing older is better than the alternative. With this in mind, why aren’t elders treated more respectfully?

People with dementia face bias

I am of course speaking in broad generalizations, but as a caregiver, I’ve noticed the lack of respect and general disdain that some people have for the aged, perhaps particularly for a person with dementia. Again, generalizations, but you must know that elder people with dementia are treated with bias. The bias is often subtle — so subtle that it’s questionable if the offender knows how offensive their behavior is.

Educate offenders

Caregivers have the responsibility to protect those within their care and to also kindly educate the outside world about how they are to be treated. I was one of my mother’s primary caregivers. On more than one occasion, my sister and I were tasked with educating people under the sphere of our influence, and those with whom our mother came into contact in society. In the early days of Alzheimer’s disease, my mother was still able to enjoy dinner out. She was forgetful, and short-term memory loss made it too difficult to decide from the many choices on the menu. The server must have noticed us assisting her and helping her to decide between her favorites. When it came time to order, rather than addressing my mother, the server addressed me. “What would she like to drink?” she asked.
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