December 10th is the day that people celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Do you know what those rights are? We have rights to equality; freedom from discrimination; life, liberty and personal security; freedom from degrading treatment; equality before the law; and to participate in the cultural life of the community – to name a few.
How many times a day do we infringe the rights of a person with dementia? Are they denied medical care for other clinical conditions? Are they deprived of liberty because someone else is anxious about the risks they might choose to take? Are they stuck in a place where they are subjected to the lowest common denominator of endless television or pop music with no reference to their personal cultural preferences and needs?
Everyone is entitled to be treated as human, but we know it does not happen in tragic ways across the world. Women and children especially are trafficked and used and denied education. Both men and women are still living in slavery. In a world that contains many horrors, it is hard not to feel a bit helpless at times. You may feel that there is little you can do about these endemic problems.
But if you work in our field of dementia care, there are things that you can do here and now to be sure that people with dementia are not denied their rights. Open your eyes on December 10th, and be a defender of the human rights of people with dementia. Help someone to be treated properly as a human being.