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Lang Policy. 2010 Feb;9(1):29-44.

Institutionalized ghosting: policy contexts and language use in erasing the person with Alzheimer's.

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255A Fretwell, University of North Carolina-Charlotte, 9201 University City Drive, Charlotte, NC 28212, USA,


The ordinary social engagement of human life would not usually be considered an arena for language policy. Yet clinical evidence mounts that social interaction improves our lives as we age. Since social engagement decreases cardiovascular risks (Ramsay et al. in Ann Epidemiol 18:476-483, 2008) and delays memory loss among those living in communities (Ertel et al. in Am J Public Health 98:1215-1220, 2008), practices that prohibit social interaction threaten human well-being. For persons who have Alzheimer's disease (AD), social interaction continues to play an integral part in cognitive function and delays in memory loss, according to a longitudinal study of social networks (Bennett et al. in Lancet Neurol 5:406-412, 2007). Increasingly, person-centered care that promotes social engagement for those with AD is promoted as an institutional policy to improve outcomes of dementia care (Edvardsson et al. in Int Psychogeriatr 20:764-776, 2008). Yet the training of caregivers may neither reflect person-centered care nor include attention to communication, suggesting covert policies in practice.

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