Home Health Aid Forms Inappropriate Relationship With End-Stage Dementia Patient

    Dementia Expert

    This case involves a wealthy elderly woman with dementia who required a home health aid during the last year of her life. The home health aid that came to take care of her was a 42-year old man. Months after the home health aid began to care for the woman, the two became romantically involved. Fearing that she was being taken advantage of, the woman’s family members entered into guardianship proceedings to secure guardianship over her. During the proceedings, it was discovered that the home health aid had married the elderly woman 2 months before her death. The judge annulled the marriage, but the home health aid appealed the annulment, asserting that he had the right to inherit the woman’s estate. An expert in dementia was sought to review the woman’s medical records and determine if she was capable of making sound decisions during this time period.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. How regularly do you see patients with dementia?
    • 2. Could you opine on this woman's decision-making capacity when she entered into her marital contract?

    Expert Witness Response E-005551

    I am the director of the Alzheimer’s disease and dementia center of a university hospital and, in that capacity, I focus exclusively on treating patients with dementia. I also teach and conduct research on dementia. I have previous experience conducting both current and retrospective assessments of cognitive abilities and testamentary capacity, as well as of the ability to knowingly enter into marital contracts. I serve on the committee of a psychiatric association to develop treatment guidelines for Alzheimer’s disease. I have testified in court as an expert on testamentary capacity, weakened intellect, and undue influence.

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