My friend Kate wrote on her blog, "I remain confused that people find it so challenging to respect the wish of many, not to PUBLICLY refer to people with dementia as sufferers." http://kateswaffer.com/2016/01/10/happy-and-confused/ (Opens in a new window.)
This was my reply: So true about suffering. Some people some of the time, yes. But not all people all of the time. And yes, how you talk about Dementia/ Alzheimer's colors how you feel about it, how you think about it, how you deal with it and how you interact with those who have been diagnosed with it!
As you know, Kate, I have always said Gregory was not a victim, he was a hero. Gregory suffered, I as his care giving partner suffered as well. Family and friends suffered. But we laughed, played, visited, enjoyed, and frolicked more than we suffered!
But for the most part Gregory and my life was full, fun, exciting, joyful, loving, calm, compassionate, and contented. Gregory and I chose to not let the Dementia/ Alzheimer's define us. It defined what we were up against some of the time but not all of the time and we didn't let it rule who we were and how we lived.
Studies in Buddhism center on suffering. The Four Noble Truths comprise the essence of Buddha's teachings, though they leave much left unexplained. They are the "truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering." http://www.pbs.org/edens/thailand/buddhism.htm
Perhaps this pervasiveness of "suffering" as part of life, is why people see people with Dementia/ Alzheimer's as suffering, without qualifying some of them, some of the time. Perhaps people do not realize that suffering can be a teacher, can be overcome, can be reduced to a small part of what life really is about! Perhaps it has to do with the observers own journey through and perception of life and perhaps it is because it is frightening to the observer to have to deal with the impermanence of their own lives.