At a recent conference on Psychogeriatric medicine at the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, Dr. Carole Cohen (Sunnybrook and Women's College Hospital) discussed 'Ethical issues in the assessment and management of Alzheimer Disease'. One of the major difficulties physicians may face when dealing with a patient with Alzheimer Disease (AD), is who makes decisions for the patient in the absence of a family member or appointed caregiver. Dr. Cohen recommended that physicians in this position contact the Attorney General of Ontario and specifically the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee. The mandate of this office is to protect the interests of 'incapable' people by making important decisions for them when there is no one else who is willing or able to do so. The staff can make decisions about personal care in areas such as shelter, safety, hygiene, clothing, and nutrition and they can also decide on medical treatment. In cases where a patient may have relatives who are unaware of their plight, the office plays an active role in trying to contact relatives to enable them to make decisions for their loved ones. They can also help family obtain the legal authority to make financial decisions on behalf of the patient. The office can also help investigate allegations of abuse or neglect of an incapable person. For more information on services for mentally incapable people call 1-800-366-0335 or visit their web site at www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca.
Guardianship Investigations Tel: (416) 327-6348 Fax: (416) 314-2642
Treatment Decisions Tel: (416) 314-2788 Fax: (416) 314-2637
Client Services Tel: (416) 314-2800