Impaired Judgement

Impaired judgement due to Alzheimer's disease

We’re all guilty of making poor decisions at various times in our life. Things we don’t think through properly and then live to regret at our leisure. By nature most of us are somewhere between the two extremes of being overly cautious or very reckless, but even adventurous people take risks that are in keeping with their personality. Most importantly, they are invariably calculated ones.

Sometimes however there are underlying medical conditions that don’t support our ability to make good decisions, including drug and alcohol dependency, depression, mild cognitive impairment and bipolar disorder.

When it becomes clear that someone is regularly making poor decisions that are completely out of character, and they appear to have lost the ability to normally evaluate and judge a situation, it is important to eliminate Alzheimer’s as being the cause.

When our memory and concentration is affected, our judgement skills also begin to suffer. These are typical symptoms that need to be discussed with your health care professional as they may be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s:

  • No longer taking care of physical appearance, including personal hygiene and keeping clothes clean
  • Being easily taken in by salespeople and made to part with large sums of money
  • Impulsive behaviour, for example when driving, that puts safety of themselves and others at risk
  • Cannot make easy decisions even when the choices are clear
  • Inability to control impulses and saying tactless things.

Before Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my husband and I lived overseas for six months and left our car with Mum and Dad to use. Mum had always been an extremely careful driver with an unblemished driving record, so I wasn’t prepared for what lay in wait for us on our return.

Six months after we got back, my husband was driving over the Sydney harbour bridge when he heard sirens and was pulled over by police officers. It transpired that our car had been deregistered due to more than $900 worth of unpaid fines. As the story unfolded, we found out that Mum had driven through a red light and received a parking ticket when using the car while we were away. Since Mum’s name was first on the registration papers (I had registered it in both our names years prior so Mum could use the car to go to work) the fines had been sent directly to her, including court summons when the original fines weren’t paid! Before Alzheimer’s there is no way that Mum would have broken the law or ignored repeated requests to appear in court and demands from debt collectors!