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Did senior who bought car show signs of 'cognitive issues'?

August 25, 2017
A Chicago Tribune headline this summer blared that an area new-car dealership "duped" an elderly woman into buying a car she didn’t want. A subsequent lawsuit contends the woman didn’t understand the documents she signed to buy it.
The woman returned to the dealership the follow day with her son, who told employees that his mother was "having cognitive issues" and shouldn’t be doing much driving. Nevertheless, the dealership declined to unwind the deal and the car ultimately was repossessed.
The situation can make dealerships cautious about selling to senior citizens because any such lawsuit always plays big in the media. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan herself has indicated that selling anything to someone with cognitive impairment is "a big deal," even if the consumer displays no such signs.
But how well versed must a dealership employee be to determine the cognitive ability of an older client?
The number of people who will be diagnosed with a form of dementia is expected to triple by 2050, so the issue of cognitive ability is only going to become more relevant to retailers. The causes of mild cognitive impairment are not yet completely understood. Experts believe that many cases — but not all — result from brain changes occurring in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
Dealerships should start educating themselves now to avoid the legal hazard of selling a vehicle to a senior who may not totally comprehend the transaction.