Making decisions about life-sustaining medical treatment in patients with dementia

Abstract

The problem of decision-making capacity in patients with dementia, such as those with early stage Alzheimer's, can be vexing, especially when these patients refuse life-sustaining medical treatments. However, these patients should not be presumed to lack decision-making capacity. Instead, an analysis of the patient's decision-making capacity should be made. Patients who have some degree of decision-making capacity may be able to make a choice about life-sustaining medical treatment and may, in many cases, choose to forgo treatment.

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