My best friend died from late-term vascular dementia. My mother’s dementia finally took her life. I watched dementia steal the IQ of my brilliant husband. His ability to reason slowly slipped from him as he worked feverously on an invention that he believed would change the world.
Because I had more than a passing interest in the disease, I began studying the many aspects of the disease. The latest research includes an interesting fact. There is a dried fruit that almost guarantees that you will never suffer from dementia. It is a nearly-perfect food for your heart and brain. That fruit is prunes. Yep, the lowly substance that your mother forced you to eat when you were too grumpy because of constipation could be God’s best protection against heart attacks and devastating brain drains.
It is my suspension that armed with this evidence, marketers have rebranded the lowly prune to become dried plums. They have even wrapped the dried plums in individual packets so that you don’t have to grab a clump of the sticky stuff from a box.
In like manner, people within the mentally challenged community are undergoing a rebranding. As the “R” word has become a popular, degrading slur, there has been a surge in the effort to rename our population. It is a valiant attempt to somehow dissolve the stigma that is attached to this disability. Several months ago, the federal government was charged with the task of finding every time “mental retardation” was used in government papers. These words were to be replaced with “intellectual disability.”
Working with people who are mentally challenged, we find most of our members have an additional disability. The majority of our population is not emotionally disabled; but most of our population has some physical abnormality. However, once branded with an intellectual disability, it becomes a stigma that must be carried for the rest of your life. Yet, this population comprises some of the most giving and loving people on earth. Yes, they are people who have an Adamic nature along with all humankind. They need salvation and discipleship. But as a whole, they desire to please; and they want to do what is right.
While prunes are the super-food full of goodness and nutrition, they are of no benefit if people will not eat them. It may be possible that with great marketing and new branding, people will begin to help themselves by eating this head and heart healthy food. Additionally, perhaps changing the tag of our members to intellectual disability will facilitate the rebranding that is needed to allow people to look beyond their inabilities to discover who they are. Rehabilitating their image may work for our population. I pray this will happen.
Have you found yourself branded with a stigma that you cannot seem to break? What have you done to try to overcome this tag?