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J Elder Abuse Negl. 2005;17(3):19-36.

Decision-making capacity: the core of self-neglect.

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  • 1Section of GeriatricMedicine, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612-3872, USA.


Self-neglect in the elderly is a pervasive public health issue that affects 1.2 million elderly each year. In working with self-neglect cases, ethical issues are often raised that challenge all professionals. Professional and family's wishes to remove obstacles to the wellbeing of an elderly may be directly in opposition to the individual's wishes. The core of many ethical dilemmas resides in the question of the individual decision-making capacity. Issues surrounding decision-making capacity are complex with many confounding factors. Through case-discussion, fundamental ethical issues of decision-making capacity relating to self-neglect will be explored and strategies will be offered to resolve these dilemmas.

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