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The way we perceive and portray dementia has implications for how we act towards people with dementia and how we address the issue of dementia within society. As a multi-disciplinary working group, established within the framework of the European Dementia Ethics Network of Alzheimer Europe, we aimed to describe the different ways that people with dementia are perceived and portrayed within society and to consider the moral implications of this. In the current paper, we address perceptions of dementia as reflected in explanatory models of its cause and nature, descriptions of characteristics of people with dementia, the use of language, media portrayals and the views of people living with dementia. Academics and professionals could use this exploration to reflect on their behaviour and their use of language regarding people with dementia.