Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Relational autonomy, vulnerability and embodied dignity as normative foundations of dignified dementia care
  1. Yvonne Denier,
  2. Chris Gastmans
  1. Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yvonne Denier, Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium; Yvonne.Denier{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Hojjat Soofi successfully developed a novel dementia-specific model of human flourishing.1 Based on a modified version of Nussbaum’s account of dignity (ie, the theoretical framework of the capabilities approach), and integrated with Kitwood and Bredin’s empirically informed list of indicators of well-being for people with dementia (ie, the field of empirically informed ethics), this model provides guidance on how to actually care for people with dementia in real-life practices, according to the moral requirements of respect for dignity.

More specifically, we deem the contributive value of the model to be threefold. (1) It is a successful specification and contextualisation of Nussbaum’s original list of capabilities in the context of dementia care. (2) The table clearly distinguishes between dementia-specific capabilities and their possibly dementia-related progressive deprivation (ie, the internal conditions), and the possible external setbacks or facilitators for human flourishing. (3) The model is proposed as being open to include new and additional insights from further empirical research on what forms of caregiving do (or do not) align with respect for the dignity of people with dementia.

In our commentary, we want to focus on the source of dignity, that is, the locus and starting point of our moral requirements on which the author takes an explicit stance.

First of all, by being founded on the list of dementia-specific capabilities, Soofi’s model places the source of our moral requirements of respect for the dignity of people with dementia within the persons themselves, ‘having some of the basis capabilities listed’ (p.6). This, in turn, brings classic discussions concerning a …

View Full Text


  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Linked Articles

Other content recommended for you