NOTE: Due to an unexpected conflict, Larissa MacFarquhar was unable to participate in this event. David Magnus, Director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, graciously agreed to moderate the discussion.
Should you be honest to the person about painful truths — their parents are dead, they will never leave this nursing home — or should you lie to keep them happy? Is there anything wrong with benevolent lies? If you had dementia, how would you want to be treated?
This conversation is based on The New Yorker article, “The Comforting Fictions of Dementia Care,” by Larissa MacFarquhar, and will include the following panelists:
Winston Chiong, MD, PhD, is an associate professor in the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, Memory and Aging Center, where his clinical practice focuses on Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, and other cognitive disorders of aging. His research has two themes: (1) the neural bases of decision-making in the aging brain, focusing on how brain systems involved in financial and medical decisions are influenced in health and disease; and (2) the ethical and policy implications of alterations to brain function.
Agnieszka Jaworska, PhD, an associate professor of philosophy at UC Riverside. She previously worked at Stanford University (Philosophy and Ethics in Society) and at the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health. Her ongoing research lies at the intersection of ethical theory, medical ethics, and moral psychology. Her current book-in-progress concerns the ethics of treatment of individuals whose status as moral agents and persons seems compromised or uncertain, such as Alzheimer's patients, addicts, psychopaths, and young children.
Marina Martin, MD, MPH, a clinical assistant professor at Stanford, in the Department of Medicine's Primary Care and Population Health unit. In 2012, she joined the Geriatric Medicine faculty at Stanford as a primary care physician in the newly-formed Stanford Senior Care Clinic. In 2014, she became medical director of the clinic, and in 2015 became the first Section Chief of Stanford's new section of Geriatric Medicine at the medical school. In this role, she oversees clinical, educational and health services research programs that promote optimal, compassionate, personalized care of older adults, especially those with frailty, dementia or very advanced age.
The Palo Alto Weekly interviewed the panelists for an in-depth article in advance of this event. Read more