35 Ga. L. Rev. 593 (2000-2001)
Freedom Fading: On Dementia, Best Interests, and Public Safety

handle is hein.journals/geolr35 and id is 609 raw text is: FREEDOM FADING: ON DEMENTIA, BEST
INTERESTS, AND PUBLIC SAFETY
Bruce Jennings*
Having Alzheimer's Disease does not make a person evil, but it
does sometimes cause behavior that poses a danger to the person
with dementia or to others. On what grounds can we justify
overriding and restricting the liberty of a person with dementia?
How far should such restrictions go? Who should authorize them
and who should carry them out, and under what theory? Given that
all behavior carries some degree of risk, what level of risk is
acceptable? What should society tolerate as a part of the back-
ground conditions within which most people conduct their lives? To
what level of risk should individuals be allowed to expose them-
selves voluntarily? Should risks associated with dementia be
treated with special caution and restriction, and if so, should that
be called discrimination or special caring? Should persons with
medically diagnosed Alzheimer's disease ever be excluded from
activities categorically (simply by virtue of their diagnosis) or only
situationally (in light of their particular level of functioning and the
specific circumstances)?
Alzheimer's is both a disease of the brain and a malady of the
mind. As a disease, Alzheimer's is an attack on the brain, upsetting
its enormously complex and delicate chemistry and circuitry.
Beyond that, Alzheimer's is a human catastrophe because it
disrupts and distorts the mind, confounding and eventually
overwhelming the mind's remarkable durability and resiliency. It
is primarily in the former domain that most of our recent, exciting
knowledge in the field ofAlzheimer's disease has come.1 The human
brain is finally beginning to yield its secrets. Yet new knowledge,
* Bruce Jennings, M.A, Senior Research Scholar, The Hastings Center, Garrison, NY;
and Lecturer, Yale School ofPublic Health, New Haven, Ct. The author would like to thank
Samantha Stokes for research assistance with this article.
See generally ANTONIO P. DAMAsIO, DESCARTES! ERROR: EMOTION, REASON, AND THE
HUMAN BRAIN (1994) (discussing advances in neuroscience); IMUIN SOUREN & EMILE
FRANSSEN, BROKEN CONNETONS: ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE (1994) (providing overview of
Alzheimer's Disease stages and symptoms).

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