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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2013 Apr;21(4):382-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2013.01.033. Epub 2013 Feb 6.

Clinical and ethical aspects of financial capacity in dementia: a commentary.

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Department of Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham. Electronic address:


In contrast to issues such as treatment and research consent capacity, financial capacity has received relatively little clinical and ethical attention in the dementia literature. Yet issues of financial capacity emerge frequently in patients with Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, and related dementias, and commonly present ethical and clinical challenges for clinicians treating these patients. These issues include whether a patient with possible dementia has sufficient capacity to manage independently their financial affairs, needs referral for financial capacity assessment, and/or is being financially exploited or abused by others. The accurate identification, assessment and successful handling of such financial capacity issues can have a substantial impact on the financial and psychological well-being of patients and their family members. This commentary presents an overview of financial capacity and associated clinical and ethical issues in dementia and describes a set of possible clinician roles regarding these issues as they arise in clinical practice. The commentary concludes with a section describing educational resources available to clinicians and bioethicists seeking additional guidance in handling financial capacity issues. The ultimate goal of the article is to focus clinical and ethical attention on a neglected capacity that is of fundamental importance for patients, families, and healthcare and legal professionals.

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