Having trouble watching this video? Click here if the video isn't loading.
Show full transcript for Is Dementia a mental illness video

So is dementia a mental illness?

It's considered in the diagnostic and statistical manual that we use to diagnose mental illness as one of those categories. But in fact, it shouldn't be a mental illness or considered a mental illness. The reason it ended up there was that people with dementia were exhibiting some of the same characteristics as those with psychosis and other types of mental illness that are chemically based in the brain. Dementia, on the other hand, is brain death, cell death, and it's organic much like a cancer is organic. It's a physical, physiological illness. Should never be considered a mental illness, it should be in a category with all the other physical illnesses.

And that one problem alone has brought with it some of the stigmas that are attached to dementia because people automatically think they're mentally ill when in fact they're not, but because they're categorized there means that we've added another insult to the disease. People don't like to talk about dementia. They don't like to discuss it. They keep it to the side and to themselves. It's bad enough too that we live in, most societies live in an age discriminatory society where it's better to look young, be young, act young, ageing is sort of taboo, do everything you can to keep from getting old. And in fact, of course, it's a life challenge as we get older.

I was watching some kids playing a little SimCity computer game where they were designing a city and they had all the little, had to get a hospital in there with some money, they had to get a port and they had to get... And I said, "So do you have a daycare on there too because I mean, these women are working." "Yeah, we got a daycare." I said, "Great. How about a senior centre?" "What?" "You don't have a senior centre?" "No." "How about a nursing home, do you have a nursing home on there?" "No, we have a hospital." I said, "No, you have a nursing home. So what are you going to do with the ageing population here?" So see, it's so firmly inculcated even in our gaming that you can't get old. That along with the mental illness and the looking different and acting differently, well there's the stigma.