A powerful ideology could be hidden in representations of people

A lot of discussion has been going on about the (stereotypical) representations of older adults and aging.


However, for my research I’m specifically referring to representations of people with dementia and family carers using technology.

Older adults are often portrayed as unskilled or not understanding technologies, despite their daily contact with it; subsequently, stereotypes led to the prejudice of their needs and capabilities, which then is enclosed in the technology targeted at them (Joyce & Mamo, 2006; Östlund, 2004).


Especially, people with dementia are often perceived and portrayed as empty shells, having no mind, and implied as ‘demented’ and suffering or dying from dementia (Alzheimer Europe, 2013).

In the United Kingdom, Peel, (2013) found terms as ‘tsunami’  and ‘ worse than death’ , and argued that the dementia ‘preventative’  behaviour in media discourse is problematic.

Yes please do – and hopefully no hospital bed for you

In contrast of German news magazines, that dominantly included positively biased representation of people with dementia (Kessler & Schwender, 2012). Positive portrayals could overcome using metaphors such as ‘victims’ and ‘the living dead’ (Aquilina & Hughes, 2006; Zeilig, 2014), yet it could underestimate the challenges people with dementia face (Kessler & Schwender, 2012).

Well I found the one paradox after another, whether I am searching for things in the UK or The Netherlands (and later Sweden!). Different results keep popping up. Whether it is about differences in media per country or media that uses ‘ positive manipulation’  or ‘negative manipulation’, or commercials are just really bad.


Remember my previous blog and some of the visuals? The protector, the savior and the risky clumsy person who is NEVER alone anymore.



Or my latest search:


Insanity? madness? I know english isn’t my first language but wow!


But there is good news!

Stereotypes can be challenged.

Unfortunately, I cannot find the latest tweet anymore but let’s just say one response was this:

the Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project

I just love it when people resist and couldn’t help but smile while reading this call to action from DEEP (The Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project). Please don’t call me a ‘ dementia sufferer’  = I’m a person living with dementia!

The link to the article:


So, if you should stumble upon some stereotypes of aging or portrayals of people with dementia or family caregivers, feel free to contact me!


Alzheimer Europe. (2013). The ethical issues linked to the perceptions and portrayal of dementia and people with dementia. Retrieved from http://www.alzheimer-europe.org/Ethics/Ethical-issues-in-practice/2013-The-ethical-issues-linked-to-the-perceptions-and-portrayal-of-dementia-and-people-with-dementia/The-perception-of-those-who-are-perceived-and-portrayed

Aquilina, C., & Hughes, J. C. (2006). The return of the living dead: Agency lost and found? In J. C. Hughes, S. J. Louw, & S. R. Sabat (Eds.), Dementia: Mind, meaning, and the person (pp. 143–161). Oxford University Press.

Joyce, K., & Mamo, L. (2006). new directions in feminist analyses of aging, science and technology. In T. M. Calasanti & K. F. Slevin (Eds.), Graying the cyborg. New york: Routledge.

Kessler, E. M., & Schwender, C. (2012). Giving dementia a face? The portrayal of older people with dementia in German weekly news magazines between the years 2000 and 2009. Journals of Gerontology – Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 67 B(2), 261–270. https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbr156

Östlund, B. (2004). Social science research on technology and the elderly—Does it exist? Science Studies, 17(2), 44–62.

Peel, E. (2013). “The living death of Alzheimer”s’ versus “Take a walk to keep dementia at bay”: representations of dementia in print media and carer discourse. Sociology of Health & Illness, 36(6), 885–901. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.12122

Zeilig, H. (2014). Dementia as a cultural metaphor. Gerontologist, 54(2), 258–267. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gns203





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