University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

‘The Living Death of Alzheimer’s’ Versus ‘Take a Walk to Keep Dementia at Bay’: Representations of Dementia in Print Media and Carer Discourse

Peel, Elizabeth (2014) ‘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). pp. 885-901. ISSN Print: 0141-9889 Online: 1467-9566

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Understanding dementia is a pressing social challenge. This paper draws on the ‘Dementia talking: care conversation and communication’ project which aims to understand how talk about, and to, people living with dementia is constructed. In this paper I draw on the construction of dementia manifest in two data-sets - a corpus of 350 recent UK national newspaper articles and qualitative data derived from in-depth interviews with informal carers. These data were analysed using a thematic discursive approach. A ‘panic-blame’ framework was evident in much of the print media coverage. Dementia was represented in catastrophic terms as a ‘tsunami’ and ‘worse than death’, juxtaposed with coverage of individualistic behavioural change
and lifestyle recommendations to ‘stave off’ the condition. Contrary to this media discourse, in carers’ talk there was scant use of hyperbolic metaphor or reference to individual responsibility for dementia, and any corresponding blame and accountability. I argue that the presence of individualistic dementia ‘preventative’ behaviours in media discourse is problematic, especially in comparison to other more ‘controllable’ and treatable chronic conditions. Engagement with, and critique of, the nascent ‘panic-blame’ cultural context may be fruitful in enhancing positive social change for people diagnosed with dementia and their carers.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: dementia, Alzheimer's disease, media, carers, discourse
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
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Copyright Info: Gold Open Access
Depositing User: Elizabeth Peel
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2013 13:10
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2020 09:26

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