Story by: Sara Thompson on July 29, 2022
Dementia and other neurological disorders can have devasting effects on the patient and their family. One of the ways dementia changes someone’s life is its impact on decision-making: the ability to gather and process information to make a healthy or desirable choice. Read on for information about helping a loved one navigate the changes in decision-making with dementia.
There are many conditions that affect decision-making ability.
“Neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression can compromise memory and impair capacity to make decisions,” said Rachel N. Hart, D.O., geriatric medicine and memory care physician with Norton Neuroscience Institute Memory Center. “Maybe the most difficult part of the process is just that: It’s a process, and it doesn’t just happen overnight. The individual might have some sense of their own decline, or they may brush it off as a little forgetfulness.”
“Sometimes financial capacity is the first clue someone’s decision-making capability is declining,” Dr. Hart said. “Not paying bills such as a mortgage or an electric bill can have serious consequences now and down the line.”
People with decreased mental capacity often become the targets of financial scams. If your loved one is not making good choices for themselves with regard to finances, health and basic needs, that is a sign they may be in cognitive decline.
“If someone is choosing not to address a serious health issue, we have to do our best to protect them from consequences of bad decisions,” Dr. Hart said.
Join specialists from Norton Neuroscience Institute Memory Center on Tuesday, May 2, to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and celebrate progress in treating it. During this lunch program, attendees will learn about the memory center, our approach to patient care and available multidisciplinary support services.
If you see any troubling behaviors or just have a feeling that something is off with your loved one’s behavior, ask a doctor to perform or make a referral for a cognitive assessment.
“There are many ways we can help someone with dementia or a memory disorder,” Dr. Hart said. “Lifestyle adjustments, geriatric physical rehabilitation, house calls and in-home care, to name a few.”
You or your loved one may want to consider creating or updating the following:
There are many local resources for patients and their caregivers, including classes, information sessions and more.
Select an appointment date and time from available spots listed below.