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Book and Media Reviews
February 18, 2009

Changes in Decision-Making Capacity in Older Adults: Assessment and Intervention

JAMA. 2009;301(7):776-782. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.145

This particular and unique text expands on a conference held to train mental health professionals about assessments and interventions for decision-making capacity. What has emerged is a book that will benefit mental health professionals and clinicians with limited experience in assessing such capacity. Specifically, the content improves understanding of the complex and multidimensional issues within decision-making capacity; describes how to conduct evaluations of individuals with cognitive impairment; details possible interventions that can help maintain an individual's independence; and describes the intersection these evaluations might have within the legal system. Qualls and Smyer thereby provide readers with a framework for conceptualizing decision-making capacity, organized into 3 sections: the effects of aging on decision-making capacity, the social and legal contexts of capacity decisions, and clinical evaluations and interventions.