Focusing on the person-centered care for a person with dementia (PWD) involves a large amount of personhood and spirituality, an empowerment which can only be achieved through dignity in dementia care. An individual living with dementia must not be seen as a “living death” as Ben Bano, a well respected social worker specialized in dementia and religion in the UK mentioned in a conference given back in 2012. It is a caregiver’s responsibility and part of being kind to others to help promote the personhood on a patient with advancing dementia. As Ben said in his speech, “through the prism of spirituality, even as mental and physical faculties decline, we can enable a person with dementia to ‘live life to the full’ and enjoy times of flourish and thriving.”
Part of being a witness of the blossoming steps, as small as they might be, is promoting that breakthrough by setting the right circumstances. Person-centered care, tears down that old philosophy of “one size fits all” in dementia care, by respecting and enhancing the PWD’s individuality or “personhood”. It involves a great understanding and meeting the “inner” needs of the PWD.
Any human, no matter their condition or disability has rights as a citizen that need to be respected. The “malignant social psychology” and the stigma behind the word “dementia” has stained the correct comprehension of what the disease is and how a PWD must be treated, with dignity and humanity. We can reverse this misinformed social cognition by creating awareness and reinforce the image of the person with dementia as someone who is capable to feel emotions, both positive and negative, and also share these feelings to those willing to be present in what often is a confusing and bewildering situation. This concept is what Tom Kitwood, a dementia researcher (he worked through the Bradford Dementia centre in the 1990’s in changing our perception in the way we see people with dementia), created as the term ¨personhood¨ to fight the stereotypes built by lack of information in society. Ben Bano explains this as “we see the person with dementia as a ‘living person’ rather than a ‘living death’.” he also adds, “a person with dementia is seen not just as an object of care, but as a source of wisdom and experience”.