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Dementia, Disability, and
Advance Medical Directives
Rebecca Dresser, Washington
University Law School
∗To refuse life-sustaining
medical interventions
∗To refuse feeding by mouth
∗To receive life-ending drugs
Dementia Direct...
∗Potential discrimination
against later self
∗Respect for individual
autonomy vs. protection for
people with disabilities
...
∗(1) barriers to informed choice;
∗(2) deficiencies in ability to predict
quality of life with dementia; and
∗(3) potentia...
∗Too many potential interventions
∗Negative stereotypes about
dementia
∗Failure to understand dementia
from patients’ pers...
∗ Tendency to overestimate negative
impact of illness on subjective well-
being
∗ Perspectives gap between people with
dis...
∗Changing selves over time
∗Changing interests over time
∗Deprivation of opportunity to
revise preferences in light of
new...
∗ Medical: relieve suffering by avoiding
prolonged life with brain disease
∗ Social: relieve suffering by including
and ap...
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Rebecca Dresser, "Dementia, Disability, and Advance Medical Directives: Toward a Defensible Legal Framework for Individual Decisions about Future Dementia Care"

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Published on

June 1, 2018

Historically and across societies people with disabilities have been stigmatized and excluded from social opportunities on a variety of culturally specific grounds. These justifications include assertions that people with disabilities are biologically defective, less than capable, costly, suffering, or fundamentally inappropriate for social inclusion. Rethinking the idea of disability so as to detach being disabled from inescapable disadvantage has been considered a key to twenty-first century reconstruction of how disablement is best understood.

Such ‘destigmatizing’ has prompted hot contestation about disability. Bioethicists in the ‘destigmatizing’ camp have lined up to present non-normative accounts, ranging from modest to audacious, that characterize disablement as “mere difference” or in other neutral terms. The arguments for their approach range from applications of standards for epistemic justice to insights provided by evolutionary biology. Conversely, other bioethicists vehemently reject such non-normative or “mere difference” accounts, arguing instead for a “bad difference” stance. “Bad difference” proponents contend that our strongest intuitions make us weigh disability negatively. Furthermore, they warn, destigmatizing disability could be dangerous because social support for medical programs that prevent or cure disability is predicated on disability’s being a condition that it is rational to avoid. Construing disability as normatively neutral thus could undermine the premises for resource support, access priorities, and cultural mores on which the practice of medicine depends.

The “mere difference” vs. “bad difference” debate can have serious implications for legal and policy treatment of disability, and shape strategies for allocating and accessing health care. For example, the framing of disability impacts the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, and other legal tools designed to address discrimination. The characterization of disability also has health care allocation and accessibility ramifications, such as the treatment of preexisting condition preclusions in health insurance. The aim of this conference was to construct a twenty-first century conception of disablement that resolves the tension about whether being disabled is merely neutral or must be bad, examines and articulates the clinical, philosophical, and practical implications of that determination, and attempts to integrate these conclusions into medical and legal practices.

Learn more: http://petrieflom.law.harvard.edu/events/details/2018-petrie-flom-center-annual-conference

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Rebecca Dresser, "Dementia, Disability, and Advance Medical Directives: Toward a Defensible Legal Framework for Individual Decisions about Future Dementia Care"

  1. 1. Dementia, Disability, and Advance Medical Directives Rebecca Dresser, Washington University Law School
  2. 2. ∗To refuse life-sustaining medical interventions ∗To refuse feeding by mouth ∗To receive life-ending drugs Dementia Directives
  3. 3. ∗Potential discrimination against later self ∗Respect for individual autonomy vs. protection for people with disabilities Conflicting Interests
  4. 4. ∗(1) barriers to informed choice; ∗(2) deficiencies in ability to predict quality of life with dementia; and ∗(3) potential harm to people living with dementia. Reasons to Limit Directives
  5. 5. ∗Too many potential interventions ∗Negative stereotypes about dementia ∗Failure to understand dementia from patients’ perspectives Informed Choice Problems
  6. 6. ∗ Tendency to overestimate negative impact of illness on subjective well- being ∗ Perspectives gap between people with disabilities and nondisabled people ∗ Dementia as transformative experience Affective Forecasting Errors
  7. 7. ∗Changing selves over time ∗Changing interests over time ∗Deprivation of opportunity to revise preferences in light of new situations Challenging Advance Directives
  8. 8. ∗ Medical: relieve suffering by avoiding prolonged life with brain disease ∗ Social: relieve suffering by including and appreciating people with dementia ∗ Need to incorporate social model into dementia care policies Models of Dementia

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