Kiss Valéria:

Protecting Dignity: Analysis of the Literary Representation of Legal Issues Related to Dementia

2021/2 | #Alzheimer’s disease #dementia #guardianship #law in literature #substitute decision-making #supported decision making | DOI: 10.31287/FT.en.2021.2.7

Dementia is one of the biggest challenges aging societies are facing in the 21st century. I examine how the topic of (1) preparation after diagnosis and (2) the theme of guardianship, care, and preservation of dignity appears in some literary works dealing with dementia. The extensive literature on Alzheimer’s disease provides valuable empirical material for understanding the contradictions between black-letter law and social reality. However, the stories examined often reflect uncontrolled everyday biases, such as the idea of worthlessness of the lives of patients with dementia, the idealization of the love of family members and the uncritical acceptance of the resulting paternalism. At the same time, legal institutions seem to remain completely foreign, irrelevant, and meaningless to those concerned. The basic thesis of this study is that literary narratives can help understand dementia. Through these stories, legal professionals, or even l aw students, can learn about this condition which is a preliminary condition of good legislation and legal decisions alike.