Ethical issues in the neurology of aging and cognitive decline

Handb Clin Neurol. 2013:118:233-42. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53501-6.00020-2.


Caring for persons with Alzheimer's disease presents neurologists with ethical challenges. Some of these, such as end-of-life care or research participation, are well known and have significant overlap with challenges in other areas of medicine or other neurologic diseases, such as cancer or traumatic brain injury, while others, such as the rise of biomarker-based diagnostics, are more novel and reflect the impact of developments in the science and clinical care of Alzheimer's disease. A thoughtful and systematic approach to these challenges, from the preclinical to the late symptomatic stage of this disease, is required and will help clinicians be better advocates and stewards of their patients. This chapter addresses a number of the most pressing ethical problems facing patients, caregivers, and clinicians during this disease, including early and presymptomatic testing, assessment of decision-making capacity for treatment or research participation, restriction of driving, remote monitoring, assisted suicide, and treatment of disruptive behaviors.

Keywords: Alzheimer's; advance directive; assisted suicide; biomarkers; capacity; dementia; driving; ethics; presymptomatic; remote monitoring.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Cognition Disorders* / complications
  • Cognition Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Neurology / ethics*