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Medical care in any capacity comes with a host of ethical conundrums. But with older adults, ethical issues tend to arise more often, due to the frequency of illness and their potential inability to make medical decisions on their own. Additionally, if older adults don’t have the correct paperwork in place, such as an advance directive or a living will, there’s a greater chance that a family member or care provider will have to make difficult decisions on their behalf. 

If you or your loved ones are approaching the later years of your life, it’s important to understand the medical ethical issues that could lie ahead. Here are a few resources we suggest using to help grow your understanding.

Aging Care

AgingCare.com is an online forum and news site that provides information and a “community” space for caregivers to connect. On this site, people can discuss caregiving-related topics with other caregivers, professionals and experts in the field. In addition to the forum, the site has an editorial team that often covers topics such as maintaining physical and emotional wellbeing, handling family conflicts, managing legal and financial needs, and finding appropriate senior housing. 

Mayo Clinic

Consistently voted as one of the best hospitals in the nation, Mayo Clinic not only provides excellent care for its patients, but also excellent research and information for the general public. On their website, you’ll find a section focusing on senior and Alzheimer’s caregiving advice. They provide expert answers, an in-depth blog and links to relevant research that may help older adults and their families. In 2004, they even published a symposium on Geriatrics, which focused on ethical issues facing older adults today. That information can be accessed here.

Annals of Long Term Care

Annals of Long Term Care is a peer-reviewed medical journal providing insight into the world of geriatric medicine and aging care. The journal content consists of evidence-based clinical review articles, case reports, clinical experience reports, ethics articles and medical perspectives written by healthcare providers and thought leaders serving long-term care patients. Articles in the publication cover a wide range of topics from cardiology to oncology to pain management and information on how to address them ethically. 

As a caregiver, it’s important that you can recognize an ethical dilemma before a decision needs to be made. As an older adult, it’s necessary that you understand the realities of aging, and prepare accordingly. These resources will help both caregivers and older adults understand the current ethical issues in senior care and how to best prepare for them.

Interested in learning more about medical and ethical decision-making? CMSS is hosting an event on August 19th at Covenant Home that explores this topic in more depth. D. Rebecca Mitchell of the Law offices of D. Rebecca Mitchell will be presenting Medical and Ethical Decisions for Incapacitated Persons – Planning, Protection and Independence from 5:30 – 7:00 pm.  Her presentation will explore issues facing incapacitated persons in the health care environment and how decisions are made when a patient cannot act for themselves. Click here to find out more about this event.

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