Anything can happen to anyone at any time. Despite all the best initiatives in the world, it will be unachievable to extinguish all negative perceptions about dementia. Nobody can deny the imperative for communities and society to be inclusive and accessible for people with dementia, but is no mean feat to rationalise with more individualistic approaches ranging from personal budgets, human rights and equality law responsibilities. It really is not a question of what a person can no longer do. It is an issue of what a person can currently do, and this might include, for example, unleashing of previously unwitnessed artistic and creative talents.
All jurisdictions converge on the right for a timely diagnosis and a right to timely post-diagnostic support, but political grandstanding over cures will be small change to those people currently wanting to live better with dementia. People who have received a diagnosis of dementia are not all consumers, and some do not even interact with health and care services as patients. They are all persons, however, and wish for inalienable dignity and respect. Everyone knows that the diagnosis affects not just the person with dementia,but their whole network of friends and family. There now must be a political will to do something about this, and this is not just a societal issue for the G7. Silos must be abolished; for example, in considering eating better with dementia, the emphasis can no longer be on the design of ‘finger snacks’, but responsible thought has to be put into how certain mealtime environments work (or do not work). It is utterly pointless talking about joining initiatives to encourage ‘dementia friendliness’, while words such as ‘victim’ continue to litter the mainstream press. And “leading” scientists and practitioners can unwittingly perpetuate stigma through somewhat perjorative language such as ‘wanderer’; the willful blindness to this must stop too. Living better with dementia is not just an aspiration; it is in many places legally enforceable.
Bring it on.