Medical Decision Making for Alzheimers

Alzheimers Memory

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One of the greatest distinctions between a child and an adult is the fact that the latter is able to make conscious choices, in terms of financial choices, on his own.

It’s no wonder contracts made with a minor are never honored, even if the dispute is taken to a court of law. Yet it’s very different for those with Alzheimer’s disease because of the memory and reasoning loss that worsens over time, and which affects decision-making to a large extent.

This is one reason why doctors suggest that loved ones immediately detect the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease through a thorough evaluation. However, by no means should one assume that these patients are unable to make their own decisions in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Diagnosis of Alzheimers

A quick diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease and the gaining of the patient’s input on how they should be looked after is definitely advisable before they move into the stage of moderate dementia. In doing this, everyone concerned with the patient will be assured that he or she has participated sufficiently in the decision-making process of the treatment and to ensure that there is no violation of rights from an ethical and legal standpoint.

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Also, there are instances where patients aren’t able to make complex choices but can still make basic ones, and therefore it is suggested that their opinion about these choices should be taken, regardless of the condition they are in.

For example, a patient with advanced dementia might be able to appoint a health care proxy but might not make the best decision when it comes to risky ones involving their will etc.

So it is suggested that when people with Alzheimer’s disease makes those kind of choices, they should be able to rationally explain why they are giving their consent to potentially high-risk or low benefit choices.

Communicate With Caregivers and Doctors

Even though most patients have legal guardians that make the decisions for them, it is recommended that they also take the suggestions by caregivers, especially when it comes to decisions regarding treatments as opposed to just the doctors and health care professionals.

Most of all, from an ethical and legal point of view, it bodes well for health care professionals and family to periodically check the patient’s reasoning and decision making, just so that they aren’t harmed by choices that might or might not be in their best interests.

All in all, the best case scenario is the situation where the patient’s suggestions should be taken at any given point of their treatment, no matter which stage of dementia they seem to be in.


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    • ageing and disability

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