Sample Psychology Case Study on Ethical Issue Analysis on Geriatrics

The case of Maria presents a number of ethical issues to relating geriatrics and the relationship between the elderly and other younger members of the society. The first ethical issue in the case is the issue of truth-telling and having an informed consent (Davis, Fowler and Aroskar, 2010). There is also a cultural issue of conflict of interest where Maria, being the elderly person in the case, wants a different thing and the others both the doctor and her daughter Angel have a different opinion. Maria does not want medical attention whereas the others beliefs that she needs such geriatric care. The key issue that arises between the two opposing parties is thus respect for the elderly and their choices.

The professional resources and standards on this field point to the autonomy of respect for the elderly in the society. Both the doctor and Angel need to respect Maria and her decisions. They should, therefore, convince her to take the medication other than imposing the practices on her. Maria needs time to understand the reason why she needs the medication and they should accord her that time. Further, her daughter, Maria should explain the issues to her mother and let her know why she has to visit the doctor (Smith, Ladd and Pasquerella, 2008). The solution to the ethical issue is to accord Maria the capacity to make some of her decisions concerning her conditions.

The ethical issues shown in the case relates to the entire society. All over the society, there is a conflict between the elderly and the younger generation as pertains to geriatrics. While the young people think that the medications are good for the elderly person, the individual denies this fact and is strongly objected to any form of medication (Benjamin and Curtis, 2010). This causes a conflict of capacity for intentional action and independence in decision making. The elderly people need to make their own decisions while the care providers fell that they need to decide what is right for them always.

Applied Ethical Principles and Standards

Principle B: Fidelity and Responsibility

The principle of accountability states that there is an expected standard of care and duty to the medical clients and the public at large. Medical practitioners must practice etiquette at all times and every visitor to the hospital gets maximum care and support (American Psychological Association, 2010). The practitioners have a responsibility of care to all the member of the public. In the cases described, the medical practitioners in the case had a duty of care to fulfill to both Maria and her daughter Angel.

Principle C: Integrity

Medical practitioners must always act professionally. They should accord maximum respect to both the patient and the patient care or guardian. Both the doctor and the nurse act with utmost integrity in the way they handle Maria. The principle notes that ethical issues are likely to arise and causes issues between different people in the society (Davis, Fowler and Aroskar, 2010). It is the responsibility of all care providers to find alternative solutions to counter the issues. In this case, the doctor identifies that there is a barrier between Maria in terms of language and even her consent seemed uninformed. He, therefore, goes ahead to request Angel to explain the situation of Maria.

Principle D: Justice

The principle of justice ensures that all patients receive proper medical attention no matter their situation (American Psychological Association, 2010). The medical field observes the principles of maximum care, equality and justice for all. In this case, the doctor and the nurse are practicing this principle and offer maximum Medicare to Maria. They do a thorough observation of her and even though she does not note her need for geriatrics, the parties consider checking on her situation. The doctor goes ahead to inquire more information about her condition from Angel.

Principle E: Respect and Dignity for the Rights of Others

This principle seeks to promote healthy living and eradicate harm to the elderly by developing an aging life care unit that protects the interests of the aged in the society (American Psychological Association, 2010). It seeks to promote the values, welfare and the interests of the elderly and make sure that they can preserve their dignity and are accorded maximum respect at all times.

In this case, both the doctor and the nurse offer close attention to Maria. They handle her with dignity and respect (Smith, Ladd and Pasquerella, 2008). However, Maria does not seem comfortable with the entire process.  The doctor goes ahead to get more detail on the progress of Maria when he notes that there was a language disparity among them.

Alternative Solutions

Ethical dilemmas in healthcare especially when dealing with the elderly can escalate and cause a tough rift between the two parties. The first alternative lies in the path of the medical practitioners who must uphold the professional codes of conduct at all times (Benjamin and Curtis, 2010). They must ensure that they work according to their clinical codes of practice and maintain a professional relationship with the client.

Secondly, the medical practitioners always need to accord an autonomy of respect to the client and their family members. Some patients, like in this case, feel that their respect has been violated and feel offended and cause an ethical dilemma. Clients and mostly the elderly need to have their autonomy of decision making and respect. They need to command respect among the young people (Davis, Fowler and Aroskar, 2010). The elderly do not want a situation where choices are made for them. But apparently, in the stated case, the medical concern and geriatrics are imposed on Maria without her wish.

Another way of dealing with the dilemma is providing an environment where all the parties involved are free. The patient and the family members need to be free and open to express themselves (Davis, Fowler and Aroskar, 2010). The care providers need to develop the friendly environment where the patient will appreciate and communicate to each other. The environment should be quit understanding all parties should develop a common practice.

There is need to strike a balance between the benefits of visiting the healthcare facility and the burdens developed by the visit (Smith, Ladd and Pasquerella, 2008). As the family of the client spends their resources in seeking the services, the medical practitioners should explain to them why they are taking a given action. The caregiver needs to make them understand all the details pertaining to the medical care in the facility. They should take time in speaking to the elderly on such geriatrics.

Preferred Choice

The best alternative to be applied in this case is the principle of autonomy of respect and decision making. Dealing with an elderly person demands a lot of autonomy of respect. These people also demand a lot of respect from the people attending to them as they perceive them as younger (Benjamin and Curtis, 2010). The caregivers and Angel should accord Maria maximum respect. They should also allow her to make her own decisions and respect such choices. This will give her enough confidence and she can speak up clearly on her condition.


This case is particularly important since it addresses a common phenomenon in medical health care and in dealing with the elderly in the society. Cultural beliefs, individual and societal expectations play a key role in the society and have a great impact on ethical values (Smith, Ladd and Pasquerella, 2008). Even though ethical issues arise everywhere and to different people, these issues are more common with the elderly. The bodies of the elderly are no longer strong to various health conditions as compared to the young and active people and thus are prone to different conditions. They may also fail to note these problems. They, therefore, need frequent medical attention. This case highlights the ethical issues that arise in taking the elderly people for medical health. The alternatives and principles of dealing with the ethical dilemmas in the society should, however, be implemented in a process that is clear and can counter all these issues.





American Psychological Association. (2010). American Psychological Association ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved August 13, 2013, from

Benjamin, M., & Curtis, J. (2010). Ethics in nursing: Cases, principles, and reasoning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Davis, A. J., Fowler, M. D. M., & Aroskar, M. A. (2010). Ethical dilemmas & nursing practice. Boston: Pearson.

Smith, S., Ladd, R. E., & Pasquerella, L. (2008). Ethical issues in home health care. Springfield: Charles C Thomas Publisher, LTD.