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Friday 28th October 2016

Dementia does not mean the end

11th November 2009

Writing in The Guardian Hugh Whittall, Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, says that dementia is not the end of life.


Dementia is a subject that seems to arise wherever I look.

However, with prevention or cure a long way off, half a million people in the UK are still acting as informal carers to the 700,000 people with the illness.

But these people can lead better lives, providing they are treated as valued individuals - approached at the right time and in the right way with their carers given sympathetic support.

Those carers demonstrate a real sense of solidarity with those with dementia and society has a responsibility to support them and recognise their needs.

These people often feel isolated but training for professionals and support for carers through formal and informal means, could improve lives immeasurably.

However, how often do we see people taking their relatives with dementia out, even though the law requires providers of services to enable people with dementia to use their services?

If the Equality and Human Rights Commission enforced this, it would potentially change the lives of people with dementia, and their carers, for the better.

Health and social services departments and professional societies must play a part in bringing about these changes, which can be achieved at relatively little cost.

In our report Dementia: ethical issues, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics sets out an ethical framework with recommendations to move us in this direction.

But real change will come only when we start to see people with dementia, as just people.


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