How can you determine the competency of a 73-year-old with early signs of dementia?


Quick Answer

Evaluating the competency of a senior citizen requires time and thoughtful consideration of many factors, according to Carla Rodgers, M.D. Psychiatrists should use touch, smell, hearing and sight to evaluate a person's competency.

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Full Answer

Seeing if a patient makes eye contact and follows the doctor's movements provides the first clue to competency. Signs of body deterioration, such as slumped shoulders and rotting teeth, contribute to the overall evaluation, as does grooming and personal hygiene, states Associated Counselors & Therapists.

Smell provides another clue to the onset of dementia. A house full of bad odors can be a sign of the inability to cope with life's daily challenges. Even more telling is how the patient responds to the odors or if he even notices them at all. Doctors should also be aware for telltale smells of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, recommends Associated Counselors & Therapists.

Whether the tone of the skin feels healthy to the touch provides another indicator of overall mental health. Doctors also need to listen for unusual breathing sounds, and whether or not the patient can hear what the doctor is saying, states Associated Counselors & Therapists.

Some symptoms commonly related to dementia may actually be signs of other problems. Alcohol abuse, depression and physical ailments commonly appear to be dementia but can actually be treated by other means, states Dr. Rodgers. Any evaluation should not be rushed as it has a major influence on the remainder of a person's life.

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