Widera and colleagues note several roles of the primary care physician in assessing and addressing the degree to which cognitively impaired patients need assistance in dealing with money and the making of similar important decisions. 3 key roles noted for primary care physician in the patient with dementia stand out to me:
- educating patients about the need to plan ahead for such eventualities
- recognizing signs of financial incapacity
- knowing where and when to refer patients for other services, be they medical or legal
"In an aging society, all professionals serving older adults have an obligation to understand diminished decisional capacity, especially with respect to financial issues, and to acquire the basic skills to identify it and respond constructively to it. Failure to meet the challenge will only increase the potential for financial abuse and exploitation."