Dementia Essay

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Carers of people with dementia need more support and advice to tackle the difficult ethical dilemmas that they face on a daily basis, says the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in a major report today. The report sets out an ethical approach to dealing with these dilemmas, and makes policy recommendations aimed at improving the lives of people with dementia and their carers. Professor Tony Hope, chair of the Working Party that produced the report and a psychiatrist with many years of experience of working with people with dementia said: “I know from the families I talk to that it is often the little things that are the most distressing. For example, one lady we spoke to had to lie to her husband to get him to the day care centre, which is something she’d never done before. Another common problem is being worried that a person will hurt themselves, for example by slipping in the bathroom. But going into the bathroom with them and intruding on their privacy can be, understandably, very upsetting.” “There will rarely be a straightforward answer to these problems, but we want carers to have better access to support and advice to help them work out what is best in their particular situation. Giving carers opportunities to talk to others in the same situation is also vital.” The Alzheimer Café scheme is a good example of this, where people with dementia, their carers, and professionals, are brought together, not just to socialise, but to tackle some of these difficult ethical issues. There are around 20 Alzheimer Cafés in the UK at the moment. Dr Rhona Knight, a GP and one of the authors of the report, said: “People with dementia also need more respect. We heard one person describe having dementia as being ‘like a non-person’. We have to challenge these kinds of attitudes. People with dementia are often capable of doing much more than we think, and even if

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