What does the Charter mean to Jim?

What does the Charter mean to Jim?

Jim Mann resides in British Columbia. He lives with dementia. Jim is a member of the Alzheimer Society’s Advisory Group who created the Charter of Rights for People with Dementia. He is also on the Ministerial Advisory Board on Dementia, which will advise on the development of Canada’s first national dementia strategy. Read what Jim thinks about the Charter below:

The phrase “actions speak louder than words” was given credence with the development of the Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia.

Jim holding the Charter
Jim with the new Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia

It’s a proud moment for all of us members of the Advisory Group to see the launch of this important document and anticipate its embrace by people with dementia, their caregivers and all Alzheimer Societies across Canada.

“So what?” some might ask. “Canada has a Charter, so why do we need one for people with dementia?” Good question.

As I write this on the patio of my home, I can see that it’s a beautiful B.C. day. My wife Alice and I haven’t gone anywhere yet, so I’m not outwardly exhibiting any memory deficits. (Like I did yesterday! But that’s a story for another day.)

Nestled in the cocoon of my home, the need for a Charter of Rights isn’t uppermost in my mind.

But that’s just today—and that’s just me. What about other Canadians with dementia, like those who are just now at their doctor’s office, going through the process of being diagnosed with dementia? How will they be treated?

Will they see themselves as lesser people than those without dementia?

Will they start to see and feel those around them making assumptions about their capabilities?

They shouldn’t. No one should. When it comes to society’s perception of dementia, as well as respecting and appreciating an individual with dementia’s right and ability to participate fully in all of what life has to offer, we still have ways to go.

And that’s where our Charter comes in.

Now, imagine if a person getting diagnosed with dementia right now could see this Charter hanging on the wall of their doctor’s office, or on their local Alzheimer Society’s web page? There it is, clear and reassuring: I have rights. I should expect support in living life as fully as I wish and I have a voice. My own voice!

And knowing that this Charter was developed by people living with dementia gives it increased relevance and importance. It’s a reflection of “nothing about us, without us.”

As a member of the Advisory Group that developed this first-ever Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia, I am proud of our achievement. I hope it will be a focal point for all Canadians, whether they are people living with dementia, care partners, or within the healthcare fields—and across all aspects of our society.

Our rights are now entrenched for all to see. It’s time to celebrate!

Read more about the Canadian Charter of Rights for People with Dementia, and how it helps people like Jim.

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