Thankfully, Joseph came to know about the Human Rights Act to family life (Article 8) in the UK. Joseph’s wife, Amelia, had received a diagnosis of dementia five years earlier. And, for five years, Joseph and Amelia were able to manage their life at home. But now Amelia needed more support and Joseph, 70, was experiencing health problems. The health services had suggested placing Amelia in a nursing facility that was about an hour’s drive from home. But, given his health situation, Joseph would not be able to visit Amelia. Joseph consulted his social worker, lawyer, and other dementia caregivers to understand their options. Based on the Human Rights Act to family life, he was able to have Amelia placed in a nursing facility closer to home where he could visit often.
Although the names in this scenario are fictional, the scenario itself is not fictional. Having a diagnosis of dementia does not mean that the person (or their family) has no rights, or no say in the decisions about themselves. But often persons with dementia find themselves in situations where the decisions are made for them. Persons with dementia experience prejudiced treatment or discrimination in our communities. Usually, the situation arises due to the lack of awareness or the stigma associated with dementia. For instance, an employer lays off the employee who has a diagnosis of dementia without performing a work capability assessment.
Discrimination or unfair treatment is prohibited by law in many countries. It is crucial that people in public service are aware of, and understand, the rights of persons with dementia. Also, persons with dementia and their families need to know their rights. In many countries, the law acknowledges the rights of persons with dementia to promote their own well-being. For example, receiving protection from abuse by family or by nursing homes, being able to make decisions of day to day life or continued contribution to society by volunteering or participation in community life. Some families or friends of persons with dementia notice that their loved one is being abused but they are simply not aware of their right to speak up and seek a life with safety and dignity.
The law has also empowered persons with dementia by giving a right choose an attorney i.e., a person who can manage their personal affairs when they no longer can. Furthermore, a person with dementia has rights to have advance directives in place while they can make a decision. An advance directive is an advance decision to refuse medical treatments in certain situations e.g., some individuals to not want to have feeding tubes or blood transfusions. To avoid future conflicts, it is important that a person with dementia is informed about their rights and given an opportunity to exercise them.
The framework of law defines the scope of interactions we have with each other and we operate within that framework to feel empowered. But true empowerment happens when we are able to see others as our equals irrespective of whether or not they have dementia. We, at AlzCare Labs, are committed to empower people with dementia by developing products that ensure safety. For further information, connect with us at email@example.com.