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Should Dementia Patients Vote?

I was asked by my Our Alzhiemer's producer, Sarah Park, to comment on a New York Times piece titled “States Face Decisions on Who Is Mentally Fit to Vote." I was amazed at the passion the piece brought up from my gut, since I have coped with so much dementia, of so many types, with family members. The piece has gotten a lot of comments, so I'm passing it on to you.

I began:

The Right to Vote -- Even for People with Dementia

Today's New York Times article titled “States Face Decisions on Who Is Mentally Fit to Vote,” by Pam Belluck, affected me far more strongly than I would have guessed, had I been told the article was being written. Throughout a good portion of my mother’s adult years, she had been an active member in the League of Women Voters. I was raised with the importance of voting smack dab in our front yard, as with each election there would be a sign that said, simply, VOTE.  The women in the League would go out and put these signs up in yards (with permission) before each election. My recollection is that it didn’t matter whether it was city, state or national. The signs went up. My mom was one of the people putting them up.

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You are so right, Rhea! I know many people who don't do any research before voting, but they vote anyway.

With Alzheimer's and other dementia, many retain certain areas of brain function, and, with help, can vote responsibly. Obviously, when they have no idea of what they are doing, it's time to quit. My main point was that if they are aware of what is happening, and aware that it is voting time, I don't feel they should suffer one more loss, and have that right taken away.

I guess that dementia patients are governed by the same rules that govern the mentally ill, the mentally retarded or just plain irresponsible people who vote without doing the least bit of research on any of the candidates. By the way, I just discovered your blog. I will be adding it to the blogroll on my blog for baby boomers, The Boomer Chronicles, as many of my readers are caring for their parents.

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