Tag Archives: Human Rights

Managing Risk for People with Dementia

21 Sep

 

Managing risk for people with dementia

 

We all take risks, we do it all the time.  We cross the road without looking carefully, eat too much, exercise too little, drink too much alcohol or smoke to name just a few of the things that all of us do.  And sometimes this has serious consequences, with the number of road traffic accidents there are a year, but there are far fewer accidents, than the numbers of people carelessly crossing the road each day.

 

People with dementia are still people, I have red hair (sometimes it is even referred to as being ginger!), but I’m not just known as that, I’m also a solicitor, resident of Plymouth and parent.  There are lots of different facets to me, but when dealing with a person with dementia, why is that the key facet that is seen?  They are more than that, much more.  So if I can take a risk, why can’t someone with a dementia?

 

From the human rights aspect, they can, they are still human and human rights are universal!  The overriding human right it the right to life, so as long as they are not seriously risking their life, everyone, including people with dementia should be allowed to make unwise choices.  We are all allowed a private and family life, freedom of religion, as well as freedom of assembly and association and freedom from discrimination.  We should all be allowed to exercise all of our human rights and it is only at the point that we risk our life, should our ability to exercise our human rights be curtailed and they should only be curtailed to the extent needed to protect our life.

 

In the Mental Capacity Act 2005, there is legislation regarding ensuring whatever decision is made on that person’s behalf, it is the less restrictive of their rights and freedoms.  The key word here is less, it is not least, to do the least restrictive would be to do nothing, but that might mean that it is too risky and becomes a risk to their life.  How many people with dementia say that they want to live at home with no help?  They might want to, but would be dead in a few days if they did, as they have no ability to care for themselves.  So the less restrictive might be to put in a daily carer, possibly even multiple times per day.

 

People with dementia are still people and like the rest of us, are completely unique, with their own views about themselves and the world around them.  They might be very risk averse or happy to take risks, even big risks.  All their characteristics needs to be taken into account when making a decision about someone with dementia, including what they say now, not just what they would have said when they were well.

 

The decision should be the less restrictive, let the person with dementia feel like they are still a person and not just a medical diagnosis and let them take a certain amount of risk as too restrictive a regime might be just as bad and dangerous for health as a too unrestrictive one.  Balancing risk is about seeing the person first, as a real person and not just their dementia.

 

And to all carers out there, from time to time, you may get it wrong, but mostly you get it right and just by caring, you get it right.  Keep up the good work.

 

If anyone needs advice in caring for a loved one, let me know, I understand.

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Diffability

30 Mar

Young physiotherapist teaching elder lady how to use a walker

Diffability

 

I have done some talks and talked to people with “disabilities” and there is a common theme around difference and the negative view of the word disability by some people.

 

There are some people who are very impaired and have to have almost everything done for them, including breathing and / or eating amongst many things.  Without support they would die in a few minutes / hours and often the lives they lead are not very independent and they have little or no choice and autonomy.  As a society, we may well consider them both disabled and disempowered.

 

But what about people living in the community, people working or volunteering, they are just like other people in so many ways, they work, socialise, contribute to society and pay taxes.  Isn’t that what “abled bodied” people do?  How are they different?

 

And the “able bodied”, those that do not fulfil the definitions of “disabled” for the purposes of benefit entitlement, which seems to be a relatively widely accepted definition of disability?  There are plenty of people who make choices that put them at risk.  Wearing high heels puts me at risk of falling and I cannot walk very far in them, but that would not make me eligible for any disability funding and no-one has ever said to me that they would consider me to be disabled when I am wearing them.  I know it is a choice and I can take them off.

 

I have met a number of people with significant self-limiting beliefs, which really disempowers them, they constantly self-analysis and doubt, the effect is paralyzing to their ambition, but since they can just about take part in society, again they are not considered disabled.

 

As for para-Olympians, the “super people”, they are inspiring and can often do more than able bodied people in their field and outside their field.  It took a lot of dedication to get to their state of fitness and achievement.

 

Why can’t we just be people?  We are all different, we have different things that we are good at.  The box ticking exercise works for some limited purpose, but in many ways it doesn’t serve us as a broader society.  There are 7 billion people on this planet, we have similarities, but we are all different.  The things that make us similar are global, we all want a good life and to make meaningful connections with others.

 

So let’s see “diffability”, difference, not inability, since we all have strengths and talents. #EveryLifeHasEqualValue.