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Perspectives on the Person with Dementia and Family Caregiving in Ireland

Suzanne Cahill

This book is all about dementia in Ireland and what has and has not been happening in a country where dementia has been a taboo topic for so long. In particular it examines the dementia landscape since late 2014, following the launch of Ireland’s first National Dementia Strategy. A lot has happened in Ireland since that time but a lot more needs to happen for people to live well with dementia and have their human rights upheld. There are an estimated 55,000 Irish people living with dementia and these figures are set to triple by 2050. Although topics explored in the book,such as obtaining a diagnosis, accessing home care services and moving from home into a nursing home relate to Ireland, they are discussed against the backdrop of policy, practice and research developments in dementia in other parts of the world. In this way the book provides the reader with a wealth of information including research evidence, best practice guidelines and international expertise. The book has been dedicated to Mnánah Éireann, in recognition of the hard physical and emotional work, caregivers,mostly women do behind closed doors. Throughout the book, an appeal is made for more state support to be given to these formal and informal caregivers.

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CHAPTER 2 Models of dementia care

Extract

Introduction

This chapter explores the important topic of how different models for representing dementia can enhance insights and can help drive change in dementia policy practice and research. Models are tools or aids used to help us better understand what might otherwise appear as complex phenomena. Traditionally in Ireland the biomedical model that focused exclusively on a neuropathological explanation of dementia, dominated public discourse. The chapter argues that the biomedical model with its emphasis on pathology, disease, plaques, tangles and drug treatments is limiting and restrictive. Increasingly there is recognition that the clinical features of the diseases that cause dementia are also influenced by other variables including social factors. Likewise, there is increasing recognition that by reframing dementia in broader social, public health and rights-based terms, much can be done to improve the lives of all people living with and affected by the condition. So how can models be used to broaden the debate on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and what are the strengths and weaknesses of the well-known biomedical model?

The biomedical model

The biomedical model for framing dementia is the model with which most people are familiar. This model is said to gain its strength and appeal from classical science, from values such as objectivity and from the resources ←19 | 20→and expertise of the medical profession and pharmaceutical industries (Sabat, 2010). The biomedical model focuses largely on diseases that need to be fixed, treated, cured or at least rehabilitated and drug...

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