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  • Sharon Daltrey

Dignity & Respect in Dementia

Have you ever experienced that moment when you walk into a room and forget why you're there? A moment of blankness, and no matter how hard you concentrate, the reason won't come back to mind. So, you have to retrace your steps or your thoughts, and then it suddenly pops into your head.

Now, imagine not being able to retrace your steps. You don't remember what brought you to this place or what you were doing before, and you have no idea where you are. What would you do? Ask someone what you were doing there? Inquire about when you can go home? Just stay still and wait for someone to find you? Find something else to do? Are you someone who easily gets angry and starts shouting? Would you try to find your way to somewhere you recognize? Would you be worried and anxious?

All these responses seem reasonable to me under the circumstances, but in the context of dementia, they are often labelled as difficult behaviours. I wonder, why is that? Do we somehow feel that as dementia advances, humans forget how to be human?

I've never thought that way. I know a human when I see one, whether that human is just born and reaching out to the world with incomplete senses or in the late stages of dementia and reaching out to the world with incomplete senses. They deserve the same dignity and respect. If any of their basic human needs are ignored I believe we fail in our basic responsibilities as human beings ourselves.


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