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Is it ethical to lie to an elderly patient with dementia?

Dealing with people who suffer from dementia provides a minefield of moral choices to navigate. When dementia strikes a family member however, the discussion moves from serving as an intellectual exercise to becoming a reality filled with difficult choices. New roles must be filled, new options must be considered and ultimately a new person must be cared for since the loved one that everyone has known up to this point has been replaced with an imposter. The imposter looks, sounds and smells the same as the original, however all of the personal and emotional connections have been short-circuited.

The first questions a caretaker must come to grips with are: who is this person and who am I? Up to this point the caretaker has probably thought of him/herself as the son or daughter and the elderly person has been their parent. All experiences, discussions and decisions have been lived through that relational bond. Now however the bond has changed. Children must make the decision of retaining some type of bond even if it is inferior to the one they enjoyed previously or severing the bond and allowing health care professionals to assume complete control of the parent. This can be a very difficult choice to make.

Another issue to consider is how to interact with the person suffering from dementia. Specifically, should one attempt to deceive the person or should truth always be used. Because those suffering from dementia do not have control of all of the faculties they can't completely understand and assimilate the truth when it is told to them. It is argued by some that emotionally harmful truth should be withheld from those suffering from dementia. In its place, white lies or outright deception should be employed. Those caring for demented parents ultimately need to make these choices; choices that are very hard to make ahead of time when stress, emotions and budgetary concerns are not really considered.

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Ethical issues related to caring for an elderly person.
Consider how best to care for an elderly patient suffering from dementia. Give an in-depth overview of some of the ethical issues that arise when caring for someone with dementia, and discuss how one ought to navigate these issues to insure the best moral/ethical outcome for all involved. Please respond with a minimum of 300 words.

Dealing with people who suffer from dementia provides a minefield of moral choices to navigate. When dementia strikes a family member however, the discussion moves from serving as an intellectual exercise to becoming a reality filled with difficult choices. New roles must be filled, new options must be considered and ultimately a new person must be cared for since the loved one that everyone has known up to this point has been replaced with an imposter. The imposter looks, sounds and smells the same as the original, however all of the personal and emotional connections have been short-circuited.

The first questions a caretaker must come to grips with are: who is this person and who am I? Up to this point ...

Solution Summary

This is a discussion about ethics in aging. Specifically, is it okay to lie or deceive an elderly person with dementia if it is deemed in their best interest to do so. Or should the truth always be spoken? Over 750 words of original text. Two original articles regarding dementia among elderly patients and ethical considerations in caring for them are also included.

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