Norman McNamara is successfully turning the tide on dodgy cultural metaphors in dementia media

Tides are a popular cultural metaphor in dementia communications.

For example, it wasn’t that long ago that Alistair Burns, NHS England’s lead on dementia, was ‘turning the tide’ on numbers of people living with dementia.

Worldwide, this tide had been going in the opposite direction according to the Lancet.

Similarly, Canada was talking about the ‘rising tide’ of dementia.

Military constructions in unison with this tide are common too.

Kensington spoke of a ‘D day’ as well as ‘turning the tide’.


A further discussion here makes for interesting reading:

“[This] report runs with these metaphors much further, however, starting with the report title – Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society, the front cover, and continuing throughout.

The front cover illustrations, notably, are super-imposed with a blue transparency suggesting a metaphorical submersion in water. Three bar graphs, claiming to scientifically portray the numbers of people with dementia and the related “costs to Canadians for dementia care,” reach like waves over a pixelated map of Canada which in itself suggests a nation in danger of crumbling apart because of the supposed dementia burden (p. 1). Overall, between the title and the incorporation of flood-like graphics and apparently objective, scientific, and monetary facts, the front cover establishes the rising tide discourse that appears throughout the report implying that dementia is a concrete threat to an imagined Canadian population and the society, health system, and economy it cherishes.

Similarly, the four section cover pages throughout the document are superimposed with blue, and all the tables are titled and shaded in blue, as are the main titles within the text. Water, water everywhere. Additionally, the image of a rising tide is further constructed with words like surge and overwhelm: “The predicted surge in dementia cases will certainly overwhelm Canada’s health care system unless specific and targeted action is taken” (p.2 ). Even the repeated use of the words “impact” and “pressure” is evocative of a tsunami or rising tide crashing into the Canadian population, economy, and health care system (pp. 3, 5, 6, 8, 28, 31, 33).

Finally, the policy document is also inundated with huge, billion dollar amounts in both the text and the multiple tables which further works to present dementia as a threatening rising tide because of its predicted, catastrophic expense. To sum up, the IBCC report states: “At no other point in the history of Canada has there ever been such an urgent demographic imperative to step up to the challenge of improving acute care for older adults” (Donnelly et al., 2011, p. 84, emphasis added). ”




But anyway, here is Norman McNamara, living with lewy body dementia, talking about his tide.


The Tide of Life

Today was a glorious day in Torquay, and the sun was high in the sky, clear blue as long as the eye could see and the world was looking good. My darling wife and I sat on a bench overlooking the harbour and watched the world go by. Sometimes I look at her and I know she is thinking about our time together and how long days like this will last. Moving here was the best thing we ever did and no amount of persuasion or cash could ever tempt us back! This is our paradise, our dream come true and our home now, but, with the Dementia looming over us would it still be in a few years time?

As I watched the tide ebb and flow and the waves come in one after the other I suddenly thought that life was very similar to the waves, always there, always ongoing, and never-ending. I’m a great believer that no matter what happens in this world Life will always find a way… and that the human race will always survive. (Ever the optimist)

This set me thinking about my Dementia and I started to compare the Dementia to the waves. As I have good days and bad days I thought it’s just like the illness coming and going in waves, and when I have bad days it’s just the same as being stormy at sea. Someone once said “That time and tide wait for no one”How true this is about life itself?

Yes we can control some aspects in our life, and to a great degree we can influence what happens to us, but what we cannot control are the time and tides of life that keep coming no matter what.

At this point I turned and looked at the love of my life, her eyes still young and smile still as vibrant as the day we met…

“You were miles away then, where were you? She asks. “I was here darling”, I replied, and always will be. No matter what the future holds nothing will ever change, the fact that we chased our dream… caught it… and embraced it with vigour… And I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else or anywhere nicer than where we live now… They have predicted rain from Sunday onwards but do you know what? I don’t care; even the rain seems OK at the moment LOL…

Norrms xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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