Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dementia and The Right to Vote

I just read a very interesting article over at AgingCare.com on the dilemma over whether older adults with varying degrees of dementia should be allowed to vote. With all the stories in the news today about voter fraud and about certain areas of the country that apparently don't deny access to voters just because they are dead or because they're only 7 years old, there is this issue that is quite a bit more difficult to address. Would you help your elderly parent or friend fill out an absentee ballot even if you weren't totally convinced that they understood the issues? What if they couldn't clearly express their choice but you, having known them and knowing what they would have chosen in the past, went ahead and filled it out with regard to their historical record. Conversely, if you believe that they are unable to make an informed decision, would you help them fill out the ballot and then not mail it? Where is the line that tells us that our elder's dementia has progressed too far for them to cast their vote? Who decides that? Can you take away a person's right to vote, a right that so many have given their lives for, without deliberate and thoughtful consideration and setting some sort of standard to be met, some specific criteria? People are living longer, the boomers are aging and finding answers to these questions is going to become increasingly urgent. The author, Carol Bradley Bursack, raises the million dollar question: Add the right to vote to the list of issues the tsunami of aging boomers will be shining a light on. Where do dignity and rights stop and the ability to make an informed decision end? It's a lot to think about.


Holly LaMie said...

Hi Betsy!
My siter sent me the link to your blog- I think it's great! I can relate and connect to so many things you talk about. Have you ever heard of a nuturing room for those with dementia? If not Ill have to send you the link, it's very interesting.


Betsy said...

Thanks Holly, I would love to see that so please do send the link. Hope you find some useful things here at Feedin' Mama and that you feel free to contribute any time.