Home > NewsRelease > How Would Justice O'Connor Rule Today? GPS Tracking for Individuals Diagnosed With Dementia
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How Would Justice O'Connor Rule Today? GPS Tracking for Individuals Diagnosed With Dementia
Pamela D. Wilson -- Caregiving Expert, Advocate & Speaker Pamela D. Wilson -- Caregiving Expert, Advocate & Speaker
Golden/Denver , CO
Thursday, October 25, 2018

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CONTACT: Pamela D. Wilson 303-810-1816

Email:  Pamela@PamelaDWilson.com

Golden, Colorado, October 25, 2018. I read the letter written by Sandra Day O'Connor, Retired Supreme Court Justice, announcing her diagnosis of dementia and my heart broke. The letter reported that she is no longer able to participate in public life.

As a caregiving advocate for more than 20 years, many of the clients for whom I was legally responsible for as court appointed guardian and medical power of attorney found themselves in a similar situation. Individuals diagnosed with dementia eventually are unable to make daily decisions about their own care and appoint (or have appointed for them) a trusted fiduciary in this role.

Heartbreaking decisions must be made about care for individuals diagnosed with dementia. Where should the individual live? What medical care should be provided?  What type of care should be provided? What are end of life wishes for care?

My experience as a caregiving advocate confirms that the healthcare system is biased against care for aging adults diagnosed with dementia. I doubt that Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will meet this fate. Many others with the dementia  diagnosis and their caregiving families will struggle to ensure compassionate and ethical care. 

Caregivers for individuals with dementia experience high levels of stress that eventually have a negative effect on physical and mental well-being. The same family caregivers are inexperienced at advocating for care and standing up to medical professionals who dismiss aging adults as disposable. Making the right decisions can be challenging. 

This announcement led me to my recent research on dementia and the dangers of wandering, a common concern. I wonder, now that she is diagnosed with dementia, how might she rule on electronic surveillance and the use of GPS tracking devices for individuals with dementia? U.S. v. Katzin was an early case. Does personal experience cloud legal judgment?

How is it possible to know if a loved one has the beginnings of dementia? What signs exist? What signs were noticed by the Retired Supreme Court Justice or her loved ones?

Are elder law, probate, and estate planning attorneys counseling clients on creating medical powers of attorney to address the possibility of dementia? Is a GPS tracking sole for an individual with dementia a safety mechanism or an invasion of privacy? Did Justice O'Connor place this contigency in her estate planning documents?

And what are we doing to ensure that all persons, regardless of age or diagnoses, are treated ethically by the healthcare community? I hope that this announcement furthers research and compassion for individuals diagnosed with dementia and for the caregiving families who experience heartbreak each day in this long journey. 

For the full stories about healthcare bias and GPS tracking for safety read my articles:

Healthcare Bias Against Older Adults With Dementia and

The Ethical Considerations of Care Planning for Alzheimer's Disease in Estate Planning Documents: The Use of GPS Tracking Devices 

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Pamela D. Wilson, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA, a National Certified Guardian and Certified Senior Advisor, is a caregiving thought leader, elder care expert, advocate, and speaker. Pamela offers family caregivers programming and support to navigate the challenges of providing, navigating, and planning for care. She guides professionals practicing in estate planning, elder and probate law, and financial planning to create plans to address unexpected concerns identified in her past role as a professional fiduciary. Healthcare professionals are supported by Pamela’s expertise to increase responsiveness and sensitivity to the extensive range of care challenges faced by care recipients and caregivers. Contact Pamela HERE

Pamela D. Wilson, Inc.
Golden, CO