Legal capacity of the elderly in Greece.
Legal capacity of the elderly people in Greece is of great legal, medical and social importance, but has received little attention till now from medical literature. This paper aims to study whether elderly people with dementia are able to participate in legal contracts like sales, purchases, loans, leases, donations and testaments. We tried to introduce a new test for the above legal-financial contracts and show some preliminary findings. The test consists of six examined relevant domains concerning basic monetary skills, cash transactions, bank statement management, financial conceptual knowledge, knowledge of potential heirs (beneficiaries) and assets/estate and finally the decision making process for different dilemmas on sales, purchases, loans, leases, donations and testaments. We studied 203 people. Eighty three people were healthy, 64 with Alzheimer's disease (AD) (10 with severe AD, 22 with moderate, and 32 with mild AD), 10 with Parkinson's disease (PD), and 46 with amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI). Individuals were included in the study only if they were aged 60 and over and only if they had a partner or a guardian who could give information on the individual's daily living. The exclusion criteria were predefined as follows: history of any other mental health disease and/or any other serious somatic health disease except for their official diagnosis of dementia. Results showed statistically significant differences with all three groups of patients characterized as incapable for legal-financial actions. Patients with severe AD (P<0.001), patients with moderate AD (P<0.001), patients with mild AD (P<0.001), patients with PD (P<0.001) and aMCI patients (P<0.001) differed significantly from healthy controls. Further research should include more extensive sampling of elderly patients with varying demographic characteristics in Greece, to confirm and expand our initial findings. In conclusion, our new test which is based on Marson's theoretical model of financial capacity seems to be highly correlated with the so far use of MMSE/HMSE scores, but it gives more specific information that is of interest in the field of civil forensics for characterizing someone as legally (in) capable for large and/or small scale financial acts. Our preliminary results show for the first time in Greece that: a) four groups of elderly people (suffering from Alzheimer's disease at different stages, Parkinson's disease and amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment and healthy elders) show a significantly different profile on all examined domains of this new test according to their diagnosis, b) people with MCI from Greece do face problems in the domains outlined above (mainly financial decision making problems), and that c) subsequent changes in the Greek law should be made.