Dementia forces us to choose

Heather Goodwind - La Loca, Book 12 #36.jpg

‘Dementia forces us to choose. Confronted with someone who can no longer think or remember clearly, who cannot conceptualise a range of options or contribute to the productivity of material society, we are forced to decide whether we will accept them as a person or not. And if we do, we must accept that we have been working with a narrow, impoverished and functionalist view of personhood that privileges the rights and interests of thinking, choosing consumers while marginalising people with dementia and other diseases like it. It is from this perspective that a person with dementia can only be understood as a “burden” on society’.

– Peter Kevern, ‘Why are we so afraid of dementia?’

[Image: Heather Goodwind, ‘La Loca, Book 12 #36’]



  1. No, I’ve not read it, Jason – it’s just one of many books that I think would be interesting to read, but can’t really prioritise it. Aside from once a year when my wife’s family all get together for a shindig, I don’t (knowingly) have any contact with anyone with dementia. But a few years ago, I used to help out with a short service at an elderly care home in my church’s parish and met quite a few with Alzheimer’s. Perhaps I should have read Swinton’s book back then!


  2. Perhaps. You might also like to check out his book Becoming Friends of Time. There are also a number of podcasts in which he tackles the subject. I love his work.


  3. I choose to see him as a person, albeit not the same person I once knew, and possibly not the same one he will be at some later point. Letting him be who he is, just accepting it and flowing along is peace yielding for all of us. Letting him do what he can and try what he wants to try gives purpose to life. Yet, every time we challenge the “norms” the whispers and sometimes, outright accusations, begin. Humans fear anyone who dares to be different. To them we just say, “BOO!”


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