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Autonomy and the elderly, not always a perfect pair

Autonomía y adulto mayor, un binomio no siempre perfecto


Aging, viewed as an individual and social phenomenon, poses multiple challenges to healthcare providers who treat the elderly. The many physiological changes that come with aging modify habits, patterns of behavior, and limit autonomy and functionality of elderly patients. However, there are instances in which well-meaning relatives, physicians, and nurses underestimate the ability of elderly patients to make decisions regarding their own health and wellbeing, thus withholding information or disregarding patients’ opinions. The elderly patient-healthcare provider relationship has unique legal and ethical aspects that require deep reflection and special training. Care must be taken to avoid infringement of the elderly patient’s autonomy by limiting or distorting information given to the patient. The unique aspects of elderly patient care require effort and dedication, as well as scientific and appropriate ethical training.