Adult Protective Services agencies in every state receive reports of possible neglect, self-neglect, abuse or exploitation of older people and other vulnerable adults. But agency workers consistently face a bedeviling question: Does the adult in question have the capacity to make a decision about their medical care, living conditions or finances — even if it’s not the decision that the family, doctor or financial adviser thinks should be made?
IDA was developed by two geriatricians to help train Adult Protective Services workers in how to handle that issue. The program helps them learn to use a structured interview procedure to gather information about a client’s decision-making ability.
IDA was developed by Dr. Mark Lachs, co-chief of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, and his colleagues, and by Dr. Jason Karlawish, a geriatrician and co-director of the Penn Memory Center. “People have the right to make bad decisions,” Dr. Lachs said in an interview. But, he added, the decision makers must be able to understand the risks they face and the potential consequences.
When her sister died three years ago, Ms. Ingersoll joined the ranks of older Americans considered “kinless”: without partners or spouses, children...