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Dementia and Human Rights – Part 4


We are getting through the rights from the Human Rights Convention and we are up to Article 9 next!


Article 9 – Freedom of Thought Conscience and Religion.  In some ways this doesn’t necessarily have lots to do with someone with dementia, as often with dementia and strong will to politically participate may fade, but not necessarily.  I’m going to link this in with the next one, which is Article 10 – Freedom of Expression as they can often go hand in hand.


Freedom of religious also specifically includes the freedom to change religion if the individual so wishes.  It includes the right to worship, teach, practise & observe in both private and pubic spaces or in a community with others.  It is only limited by law and the protection and safety of the public.  Most of the people with dementia that I have met are some form of Christian and some have strong denominational beliefs whilst others don’t.


Freedom of Conscience is about some non religious beliefs and is about an individual’s morals.  Do they want to show kindness to their neighbours or hostility?  Subject to that person dealing with their neighbours in accordance with the law, there is no problem with them do as they wish, whether it is kindness or hostility.  We all have people within our neighbourhood that we like and people we don’t like as much, why should someone with dementia be different?


I’ve already mentioned that this is linked to the Freedom of Expression.  It includes the Right to receive and hold opinions and to impart them to others.  This can cause issues for people that may well have held strong views, but rarely disclosed them in public, but with dementia they say the things that they always kept quiet.  Even if the view is not a populist one and even if the person to whom it is imparted doesn’t agree, it does not mitigate their Right to hold that view and to share it.  People are entitled to have extreme right or left wing views, they can believe that all people are made equal or be gender or racially biased.  As long as their views are legal, they are entitled to hold them and as part of the right, free to express their opinions.


The next Convention Right fits in with these, which is Article 11 – Freedom of Assembly and Association.  This Convention Right includes the Right to form and join trade unions.  Whilst this is probably not the key point of the Right for someone with dementia, the issue is that the right relates to the protection of their interests.  So a person with (or without dementia) is entitled to associate with whoever they please with [or without] the aim of protecting their interests.  This was particularly pertinent within the context that I originally thought about writing these blogs in respect of someone roaming and having a GPS tracker.  They are entitled to take some risks, but the risks are a balancing act between the prevention of harm and the restriction of rights.  When roaming, the person with dementia is entitled to go and visit whoever they want, even if their carer doesn’t approve and picking up on an earlier right, they are entitled to have sex with them, so long as both parties consent, if that is what they want.


Haven’t we all done or said things that others don’t agree with or approve of?  Why is a person with dementia any different?  Don’t we all have at least one friend that our other friends don’t get on with?  If we want to be politically active, join a trade union, publish our opinion, then subject to that being legal, we all know that we are allowed to do that, if we are, then someone with dementia is too.