Decision-Making Capacity

Sometimes people with thinking problems (for example, due to a head injury, stroke, dementia, epilepsy or a learning delay) can have problems reliably making decisions about important issues.

Sometimes people with thinking problems (for example, due to a head injury, stroke, dementia, epilepsy or a learning delay) can have problems reliably making decisions about important issues.

These difficulties can include problems deciding:

  • whether to continue in a profession;

  • who should be managing one’s finances and/or legal affairs;

  • whether to make a will.

Other important questions include whether:

  • to pass on the running of a family business;

  • to continue living independently;

  • to undergo a medical intervention/surgery;

  • to continue driving.

 

This can be a particularly difficult area if someone does not realise that they have a problem with their thinking.

Unfortunately, GP and other medical services again generally offer only very brief, limited assessments of questionable sensitivity/specificity.

Private neuropsychological assessment of decision-making capacity and related areas of functioning can be very useful when concerns are raised about judgement, memory, reasoning and other relevant areas of functioning. Such an assessment often forms a part of an application for Guardianship or Enduring Power of Attorney made through the relevant State or Commonwealth Tribunal.

Assessment can be requested by individuals themselves, by family members or by lawyers who are concerned about their client’s capacity to run a business, complete a will or make other important financial and/or legal decisions.

If you have concerns about someone’s capacity to make important decisions, it is prudent to consider whether neuropsychological assessment might be helpful.