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Supportive care for the person with dementia$
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Julian Hughes, Mari Lloyd-Williams, and Greg Sachs

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554133

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199554133.001.0001

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Persons with severe dementia and the notion of bodily autonomy *

Persons with severe dementia and the notion of bodily autonomy *

(p.253) Chapter 27 Persons with severe dementia and the notion of bodily autonomy*
Supportive care for the person with dementia

Wim Dekkers

Oxford University Press

Generally, dementia is a long-lasting and gradual process. While the body often remains strong for a number of years, mental capacities as well as the accumulated competencies and memories of a lifetime gradually slip away. Late stage symptoms include an inability to recognize familiar objects, surroundings, or people, increasing physical frailty, difficulties in eating and swallowing, weight loss, incontinence, and gradual loss of speech and movement control. Reflexes become abnormal and muscles grow rigid. In the end stage, people with dementia lie in bed in a foetus-like position seemingly living as a vegetative organism, being totally dependent on the care of others. This chapter focuses on people with severe dementia, answering the question of what supportive care could contribute to the well-being of these people. It argues that people with severe dementia cannot entirely be denied a (rudimentary) form of selfhood or personhood. They definitively are not persons in the strict sense of moral agents who are self-conscious and rational and demonstrate a minimal moral sense, but at least they can be called persons in a weaker sense.

Keywords:   dementia, supportive care, severe dementia, personhood, selfhood

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