Last weekend, the dementia care and advocacy community lost one of its most unique and powerful voices with death of Richard Taylor. A few years after being diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s-type dementia, Richard Taylor emerged as a passionate, uncompromising advocate for people living with dementia. He challenged stigma wherever he found it, and was often a harsh critic of the Alzheimer’s establishment, which he argued over-emphasized the search for a future cure at the expense of programs to support people struggling with dementia today. Anyone with an interest in dementia should know his remarkable book, Alzheimer’s from the Inside Out.
I wish I had gotten to know Richard much better. I met him through email and then at a conference about five years ago, and continued to stay in touch with him from time to time. The interest he took in my work on dementia has been an important motivation for me to keep going.
Many of those who knew Richard well have written tributes to him, some of them gathered in a post on Truthful Loving Kindness. Kater Swaffer wrote a particularly moving post about how Richard inspired other people with dementia to become advocates. Geriatrician Al Power’s tribute included a remarkable quote which I think captures the radical challenge Richard Taylor posed:
“I believe that as people progress with dementia, their humanity increases. People have to get ready for that humanity to be unleashed.”