Waiting for the world elder abuse awareness day 2019, we will post everyday a story from real-life situations where the human rights of older people in Finland, Ireland, Italy and Romania were not respected. Their stories illustrate the challenges older people face in having their rights met.
“I was afraid to tell anyone because I knew the stigma around it”
At 61 after being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, Ruby immediately retired from her job. Now at 68, Ruby regrets this admitting that she “was afraid to tell anyone because of the stigma surrounding her diagnosis.”
At the time she felt depressed and isolated due to the lack of support and information in her area, Nearly a year after her diagnosis, Ruby visited an Alzheimer’s care centre 30km from her home, the only service available to her in her area. Witnessing older people with more advanced dementia confirmed her worst nightmare, “ I came out and I cried and cried and cried, this is my life now this is what it has come to…. eventually I got the courage to drive home.”
Ruby worries she will have to leave her home especially with the lack of homecare available. “Why should I be forced to go into a nursing home because this government has decided that all the money should go into nursing homes? We want to live in the homes we paid and worked so hard for. Why should I be forced into a nursing home? That is a complete violation of my human rights.”
Ruby regrets her lack of self-assertiveness when retiring from her job so early, and puts this down to a lack of advice, support and information saying, “ I completely forgot I had rights for myself.” She also feels that she shouldn’t have given up and that she should have informed her employer that “ I have rights under employment law that protect me” stressing that if she had cancer, she would have talked to her employer and said, “look I have cancer” and they would have said “ ‘Ok’ and would have helped me or supported me. But if I said I have Alzheimer’s they would have found a way of getting rid of me.”
After eventually discovering Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy (CRT), Ruby recommends that everyone diagnosed in the early stages of dementia should be told about and be able to get CRT, saying that it “ is an easy and simple way to keep you well” affirming that it was “ really where my journey into life began, that is what actually saved my life, without a doubt.”
Ruby’s story highlights infringements of these rights:
ECHR Article 8 Right to respect for private and family life;
ECHR Article 14 Prohibition of discrimination in the enjoyment of Convention rights;
CRPD Article 5 Equality and non-discrimination: reasonable accommodation is provided;
CRPD Article 8 Awareness raising: combat stereotypes and prejudices relating to persons with disabilities, including dementia;
CRPD Article 19 Living independently and being included in the community: access to community support service to prevent isolation and segregation;
CRPD Article 27 Work and Employment: safeguard and promote the realisation of the right to work, including for those who acquire a disability during the course of employment;
CRPD Article 26 Habilitation and Rehabilitation: enabled to develop new skills, and have help to regain lost skills.