MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsinites with Alzheimer’s disease cannot be involuntarily confined under a major court ruling Friday.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court said it was wrong for an 86-year-old Fond du Lac woman to be detained under the state’s involuntary commitment law known as “Chapter 51.” Those with mental illnesses and drug dependencies can be detained for treatment if they pose a risk to themselves or others.
The justices agreed with an appeals court ruling from last year, which said that Alzheimer’s is not a qualifying mental illness – because there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s.
Justice Michael Gableman said it would have been more appropriate to place the woman under Chapter 55 with a place more tailored to her needs which provides necessary protections.
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley explained in a different opinion why they agreed.
The court did not say how it might have ruled had the case involved more than one condition besides Alzheimer’s.
As of last year, Wisconsin had around 110,000 Alzheimer’s patients. After last April’s appellate court ruling, patient advocates praised the decision. They said it would end the variations in the way different counties apply the law – and it would end the practice of nursing homes calling law enforcement when they have an Alzheimer’s patient lash out.