Questions that face dying individuals, their families, and the professionals that help them at the end of their lives are explored in this volume. The contributors help the reader to come to terms with issues of mortality complicated by the diversity of cultures within society.
Chapter 3: Cognitive Changes That Affect Capacity and End-of-Life Decisions
Cognitive Changes That Affect Capacity and End-of-Life Decisions
A great deal of mythology surrounds the process of aging, especially the aging of the brain. Although it is true that the brain undergoes anatomical and functional changes with age, healthy individuals can maintain excellent neurological and psychological functioning well into their 8th, 9th, and even 10th decades. However, a number of disease processes (e.g., Alzheimer's disease, stroke) can affect brain functioning, and many of these illnesses become more prevalent with age. Given that more than 19 million baby boomers will live to be 85 or older by the year 2015 (Hooyman & Kiyak, 1996), it is important to understand the aging process of the brain in terms of ...