Alzheimer's: Who Decides?

People in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease may still be able to make informed decisions about their care if they meet certain criteria, but others may not understand the risks and benefits involved in Alzheimer's disease treatment options.

A new study shows that people who were aware of their Alzheimer's disease diagnosis symptoms and prognosis for the future were more likely to be able to make competent decisions about their treatment, regardless of the severity of their disease.

Researchers say the results may be helpful to Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers. Although current Alzheimer's disease treatments generally do not carry substantial risks, new treatments currently under development may carry more risks.

"Doctors and family members could benefit from having a method to know if the person is capable of deciding whether to undergo a risky treatment," says researcher Jason Karlawish, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, in a news release.

Making Decisions About Alzheimer's Treatment

In the study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Neurology, researchers interviewed 48 people with very mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease and their family caregivers to measure their ability to make competent treatment decisions.