elderly women

Shared decision-making by elderly: the approach

In the last week of September, an interesting symposium was organized about shared-decision making for elderly at VUMC.


Elderly in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands the group of elderly are increasing greatly in number. 98% of the patients would like to be involved in a joined- medical decision (NPCF, 2013), which indicates that this group is increasingly important. However, making a joined-decision with elderly patients creates a number of challenges.


As age increases, the ability to process information deteriorates. In particular the interpretation of numbers becomes more difficult. Therefore, it is important to present the advantages and disadvantages of a treatment in different ways. For example by using percentages, icon arrays and pie charts. Likewise, vision and hearing deteriorates with age. On top of that gloominess and depression  occurs more often when people age. All these factors combined complicate the ability to evaluate and decide on a medical treatment.


Fortunately, there is an upside. Elderly have more life experience. They make decisions with their feelings rather than reason. Deciding together with the elderly seems to require more investment of the caregivers, but at the same time the patient’s satisfaction will increase and the quality of care will improve.


We try to make the process of using decision aids easier by keeping the decision aid as short and simple as possible. In addition, the decision aids are suitable for low-literates and there is a reading aloud function available. If you have ideas to improve the accessibility of the decision aids, please do not hesitate to contact us or send an email to: