Learn about the Charter's background

The importance of human rights for people with dementia

People with dementia are individuals with the same human rights as anyone else, including the right to manage their own lives. Over time, however, the disease affects their abilities to make decisions about their everyday lives, such as their finances and health.

This makes it difficult for people with dementia to stand up for themselves when their rights are threatened. People with dementia often face stigma and discrimination based on their diagnosis, and are vulnerable to assumptions, actions and decisions made on their behalf.

However, a human rights-based approach to dementia can help address this problem and give people with dementia a voice.

What is a human rights-based approach to dementia?

A human rights-based approach means that individuals and the communities in which they live acknowledge the rights of the person with dementia, empowering them and improving their quality of life. Through this approach, people with dementia should be able to:

  • Receive encouragement and support to participate in the development of dementia-focused policy and practice
  • Know and claim their rights, especially when they feel their rights are being threatened
  • Hold individuals and organizations responsible for respecting, protecting and fulfilling their rights
  • Feel assured that health, social care and civic services will understand their needs and thus provide the highest possible quality of care

With this approach in mind, people with dementia worked with the Alzheimer Society of Canada to create the Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia.

What is the Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia?

The Charter of Rights is a living, accessible document that protects and asserts the rights of people with dementia. The primary purpose of the Charter is to help people with dementia understand and advocate for their human rights.

In addition, the Charter will provide a framework for policy makers, health, social services and other government agencies to identify barriers and drive the changes needed to improve the lived experience of those with dementia and their caregivers. For instance, the Charter can inform Canada’s national dementia strategy, currently in development.

Furthermore, organizations whose work impacts people with dementia will use the Charter to ensure that people with dementia receive the same high quality services offered to others, enabling them to enjoy the best possible quality of life.

Finally, the Charter is relevant to all Canadians with dementia, regardless of where they live, the stage of their disease or the services they access.

More information and resources

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Last Updated: 09/05/2018