The aging society and increasing prevalence of dementia
Η γήρανση της κοινωνίας και η αύξηση του επιπολασμού της άνοιας. : Βιοηθικοί προβληματισμοί
One of the greatest challenges in our times, not only in medicine but also in society, is Dementia. In our country it is calculated that there exist more than 160.000 patients suffering from that disease, alone. This number is expected to rise in the coming years, due to the increase in average subsistence, giving the problem more rising and urgency more bio-ethical challenges. The major bio-ethical question, though, is if the “subject” that suffers from dementia in the present circumstances, lacking self-determination, can be considered as a person, with intrinsic value.
Before starting giving answers, to our major concern, we will refer to the condition of ageing around the world and in Greece, as well as to the socioeconomic effects of ageing. We will, also, try to approach the concept of dementia and the problems that follow at a personal, social and economical level. The structures and the organizations that exist in our country to confront these situations and the existing shortages will be examined, too.
Finally, we will focus on the moral issues that appear due to dementia. A central question concerns the moral status of the dimented patient. During this analysis we will refer to the principles of autonomy, respect for dignity, the principles of beneficence and non-maleficence, through the theories of Ronald Dworkin and Onora O‟Neill. Immanuel Kant‟s theory of Categorical Imperative will guide us, with reference to the law of universalization and the formula of humanity as an end in itself.
In conclusion, the most significant observation of this paper is that patients with dementia are subjects with intrinsic value that we all have to respect and protect as rational beings who are bearers of humanity.