It is no exaggeration that the philosophical and ethical dimensions of age-related cognitive decline and dementia have been discussed for millennia, nor is it without reason. To this day, we struggle with understanding and dealing with the conceptual and ethical complexities which these conditions give rise to. And yet, we keep encountering new problems, challenging us to again rethink our relationship with neurodegenerative disease, cognitive impairment, and personhood.
In this presentation I highlight phenomena in dementia care, prevention, and treatment, which have recently gained attention in dementia care and in the literature of the same – including relational identity adoption, paradoxical lucidity, and transformative experience – and discuss their ethical, philosophical, and practical implications. I argue that, to tackle the problems that arise, we may need to adjust our way of thinking about the human mind, to better make sense of what is at stake in dementia care and to deal with the consequences. I suggest that a framework allowing a spacial and temporal “plasticity of the mind” of sorts may help us in this endeavour, and inform our decision-making in care, prevention and treatment of dementia. I also address some of the potential issues with adopting such an approach, and discuss how to move on from here.