I recently had the pleasure of attending the Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference in Puerto Rico. I presented a poster based on my work with individuals with Diogenes Syndrome. Diogenes Syndrome is a disorder characterized by extreme self neglect, domestic squalor, social withdrawal, lack of concern about living conditions and hoarding. It used to be referred to as “senile squalor syndrome.”
It was inspiring to see so much high quality research happening internationally and to see my work featured alongside 74 other posters from around the globe. My research focused on the ethics and challenges of providing care to these people. Diogenes Syndrome affects about one in every 2000 persons over the age of 60 living in the community. The affected person usually refuses help and health professionals tend to force care, which raises ethical questions.
So it’s a delicate balance between respecting an individual’s autonomy and ensuring personal safety. Using a harm reduction model approach to care is often effective with this population, which also allows a high level of autonomy to be maintained. Dementia is rarely diagnosed, but it is suspected in many cases.
I was also able to attend many of the presentations and was able to cheer on my fellow Canadian colleagues. The conference provided a great opportunity to meet other individuals who are passionate about providing client-centred care and finding a cure for this disease. It was a great privilege to attend and thank you to Alzheimer’s Disease International for the opportunity.