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FAQ: Alzheimer's Disease And Notarization

Alzheimer’s Disease is a condition that can affect older healthcare patients and impair their ability to understand documents. Here are some facts about Alzheimer’s for Notaries working in the healthcare industry along with suggestions if a signer exhibits symptoms of Alzheimer’s during a notarization.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease? Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease that destroys memory and thinking skills. In most cases symptoms appear in people after the age of 60. The National Institute on Aging estimates that as many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease.

How can Alzheimer’s affect signers? Alzheimer’s can impair a signer’s ability to communicate with the Notary and understand the effect of a document being signed. However, the degree that Alzheimer’s affects a signer can vary—early symptoms may include confusion, minor memory loss or mood swings. As the disease progresses, a signer may suffer more severe memory loss, be unable to recognize family and friends, or perform simple task.

How should Notaries respond if a signer is affected by Alzheimer’s?While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, the disease can have greater or lesser effect on a signer depending on the stage of the disease and whether the signer is being treated with medication for the condition. As with any notarization, the Notary should speak with the signer and ask questions to determine if the signer appears alert, aware and understands the document involved in the notarization. Extra care should be taken if the Notary knows the signer has Alzheimer’s, as effects of the disease can vary or not be readily apparent. Should a signer exhibit signs that they are confused, unaware or suffering other types of mental impairment, the Notary must stop the notarization and should make a note of the reason why in the journal entry.

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