What’s the Difference Between “Dementia Friendly” and “Dementia Inclusive”

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Language matters when it comes to talking about dementia, but it’s not always easy to get consensus. For years, the push within communities and organizations was toward being “dementia friendly,” which implied welcoming people living with dementia, but not necessarily employing them or making accommodations to fully support them.

Now, some dementia advocates are ditching “friendly” in favour of “inclusive.”

“The term ‘friendly’ is mildly paternalistic, and could be seen as meaningless, as there

is nothing accountable about it,” says dementia and human rights activist Kate Swaffer. In addition, to losing “friendly,” she also hopes to eliminate the use of the word “dementia.”

“Inclusive means so much more for people with dementia. An inclusive community means that our disease is not labelling us, and the term then covers every person in the community, with and without disability, of any age,” says Swaffer. “To be inclusive, our communities also must be accessible to support our cognitive disabilities. In terms of human rights or disability rights, there is a huge difference.”

“Inclusion is a powerful word that demands accountability,” adds Swaffer, “which is why so many other organizations are targeting it; the Age Friendly movement has changed its name to Inclusive Ageing and Handicap International rebranded as Humanity and Inclusion.”

Nevertheless, there is mixed debate within the dementia community, and not every person living with dementia is against using “dementia friendly.” Jim Mann, for instance, believes it spreads awareness and has few negative attachments. [ ]