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2017: Dementia as a disability? Implications for ethics, policy and practice

In my role as Chair of Alzheimer Europe, combined with my professional experience in the field of dementia and also my personal experience with dementia in my family, I am pleased to present this discussion paper which addresses the implications of recognising dementia as a potential disability. Alzheimer Europe has long recognised that dementia can result in disability. This is reflected in various reports produced in the context of the European Dementia Ethics Network, which was set up by Alzheimer Europe in 2009 and addresses a different ethical issue every year. However, this is the first time that the organisation has dedicated its annual ethics review specifically to dementia and disability. The exploration of ethical, policy and practice implications is particularly timely and coincides with ongoing developments in the fields of human rights and disability. This paper highlights issues that need to be further addressed but in many places takes a clear stance on potential ethical issues and on implications for policy and practice.

Dementia as a disability is a relatively new and emerging area of exploration in which disability enables us to look at dementia from a different perspective, or through a different lens as it were. Relevant stakeholders need to familiarise themselves with the topics and concepts sur- rounding disability and see where they stand in relation to these.

This document is the result of a year’s work carried out by the ethics working group in close collaboration with the European Working Group of People with Dementia. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the mem- bers of both groups who shared their expertise, experience and knowledge and in so doing helped raise awareness of dementia and disability. The members of the ethics work- ing group, which was chaired by Dianne Gove, include Jean Georges, Grainne McGettrick, Andrea Capstick, Toby Wil- liamson, Sébastien Libert, Helen Rochford-Brennan, Carmel Geoghegan, Helga Rohra, June Andrews and Simo Vehmas. I would also like to offer my grateful thanks to the whole of the European Working Group of People with Dementia and their carers/supporters for providing valuable insight and feedback on the issues covered.

As this is a discussion paper, I hope that it will promote debate and contribute towards future developments in advocacy and policy insofar as this relates to dementia as a disability.

Iva Holmerová

Chair of Alzheimer Europe



Last Updated: Tuesday 13 February 2018


  • Acknowledgements

    The discussion paper “Dementia as a disability? Implications for ethics, policy and practice” received funding under an operating grant from the European Union’s Health Programme (2014–2020).
  • European Union