Pseudodementia and competency.
M. I. Good,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
21(3): 365-70, 1993.
An increase in the number of challenges to competency determinations in probate cases parallels an
increasingly aging population. In the literature on competency determination, there is little if any
discussion of the implications of pseudodementing conditions, which can quite readily be
misdiagnosed as true dementias, especially in the elderly. This case report describes a patient thought
to have had a stroke with dementia and paresis who turned out to have had a pseudodementia. She
later made a dramatic and somewhat surprising recovery. It subsequently came to light that a nearly
successful attempt had been made to defraud her of her estate during her presumed dementia, which
was thought to have been irreversible. The case underscores issues in competency determination,
including matters of diagnosis, prognosis, and undue influence.