All human beings are born free & equal in dignity and rights.
– Article 1: Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The International Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
2021 Theme: EQUALITY – Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights
Human Rights are universal rights of every human being to be treated with dignity, respect, and fairness. This year theme for Human Rights Day focuses on how rights are the beginning of peace within societies, and a way to create a fairer society for future generations.
Unfortunately, people living with dementia are often denied their human rights through subtle and indirect discriminatory practices, making it hard to tell when treatment contravenes their rights as citizens.
A typical example would be, being coerced into doing something on the pretext of being in “their best interest” as they are diagnosed or living with dementia. At this year Alzheimer Europe Conference 2021, Patrick Ettenes from the LGBTQ+ community spoke about multiple discriminations because of his sexual orientation and living with young-onset dementia.
People living with dementia and their care partners have the right to be free from discrimination based on any grounds such as age, disability, gender, race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, health status and those aspects directly because of their dementia.
Yet today, the fight against discrimination remains a struggle for more than 55 million people living with dementia globally.
- The right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment
- The right to liberty on movement
- The right to be free from discrimination including indirect discrimination such as unfair treatment and applying blanket policies
- The right to respect for private life includes autonomy over their own lives, care, and treatment; participation in the community; access to and respect for private and confidential information
- The right to respect family life includes maintaining family relationships and ongoing contact.
The human rights of people living with dementia lie at the core of Dementia Alliance International (DAI) advocacy work. In 2016, DAI launched the 1st edition of a booklet to provide a basic introduction to Human-Rights Based Approaches (HBRAs) – The Human Rights of People Living with Dementia: from Rhetoric to Reality.
The aim is to get people living with dementia to have basic knowledge of their human rights or to join forces with others to claim and hold their national dementia organization, as well as their governments, professional organizations, media and the general public, accountable and being fair in policies & service delivery, and full inclusion in civil society; “Nothing About Us, Without Us.”
Organizations, healthcare practitioners and individuals who care for people living with dementia, including informal care partners, must respect, protect and take steps that people with dementia have the right to make decisions for themselves whenever possible.
They have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and live as independently as possible, for as long as possible.