November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, a time when we increase awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and the more than 6.2 million Americans living with it. And as our population ages, the chances that a lawyer may interact with a client with cognitive decline may increase too.
The Alzheimer’s Association predicts that 12.7 million Americans 65 and older (almost 1 in 6) will have Alzheimer’s by 2050.
Someone showing signs of diminished capacity may be experiencing acute symptoms, while others may be encountering a chronic and eventually debilitating condition impacting one’s mental and physical functioning.
Few lawyers are medical professionals, qualified to make a diagnosis, let alone properly spot the signs of true cognitive decline. Nevertheless, the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (IRPC) demand that lawyers keep client confidence (IRPC 1.6) while maintaining a normal client-lawyer relationship (IRPC 1.14(a)).