Alzheimer’s dementia and other degenerative dementias impair brain functioning and over time will inevitably lead to impaired decision-making. Patients may refuse to undergo treatment, may be unable to draw up and sign a will, and lastly, may not be able to conduct their own financial affairs.
To make decisions, we require attention and concentration, planning ability (executive functions), memory, judgement and insight. Alzheimer’s disease affects all these aspects of brain functioning during the different stages of the illness. In the early stages memory is affected and to some extent planning ability. Judgement and insight can be affected early, but in most instances it is affected from the middle stages of the illness.
Written by Dr Frans Hugo, MBChB, M.Med Psychiatry and Dr L. Van Wyk, MBChB, M. Med (Psych) from the Panorama Memory Clinic.
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For more information visit: Dementia SA: http://www.dementiasa.org/ or Alzheimer’s South Africa: http://www.alzheimers.org.za