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Should You Lie to a Person with Dementia?
Should you be honest to the person about painful truths — their parents are dead, they will never leave this nursing home — or should you lie to keep them happy? Is there anything wrong with benevolent lies? If you had dementia, how would you want to be treated?
This conversation is based on the New Yorker article, “The Comforting Fictions of Dementia Care,” by Larissa MacFarquhar. She has been a staff writer for the magazine since 1998. Her subjects have included John Ashbery, Edward Albee, Derek Parfit, Patricia Churchland and Paul Churchland, Richard Posner, and Noam Chomsky among many others. Before joining The New Yorker, MacFarquhar was a senior editor at Lingua Franca and an advisory editor at The Paris Review.
Introductory remarks will be made by Professor David Magnus, director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and co-chair of Stanford Hospital's ethics committee. After MacFarquhar discusses her work, she will moderate a discussion with the following panelists:
Dr. Winston Chiong, an associate professor in the Department of Neurology Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco. His clinical practice focuses on Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia and other cognitive disorders of aging.
Agnieszka Jaworska, an associate professor of philosophy at UC Riverside. Before that, she taught courses on ethical theory, moral psychology and medical ethics at Stanford — and was part of the Program in Ethics in Society.
Dr. Marina Martin, a clinical assistant professor at Stanford, in the Department of Medicine's Primary Care and Population Health unit. Her clinical practice currently consists of post-acute rehabilitation and long-term care at the Webster House Health Center nursing facility.
(Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)