Starting discussions earlier helps ensure that a person with dementia stays involved and understands the planning process. In the same fashion, regular reviews of plans over time are beneficial for ensuring that their wishes are carried out.
Health News’ recent article entitled “Can Someone With Dementia Sign Legal Documents?” cautions that, when family members don’t know the preferences of their loved one, they have difficulties and stress in making decisions. Family members may also have feelings of guilt, self-doubt and stress while making advanced care decisions.
Laws in each state may differ. Working with an experienced elder law attorney can help seniors interpret state laws, plan how wishes should be carried out and understand financial options.
Geriatric care managers, trained social workers, or nurses can also offer support to those living with dementia, as well as their families.
While advance care planning, families and their loved ones with dementia should create a plan for long-term care and plan for funeral arrangements in advance.
Advance care planning documents commonly include the following:
- A durable power of attorney for healthcare names someone to function as a proxy for the person with dementia, when he or she may be unable to make healthcare decisions for themselves.
- A living will includes an individual’s wishes for end-of-life treatment. This can concern specific procedures such as dialysis, tubal feeding, or blood transfusion. If the person becomes permanently unconscious (coma), families can make treatment decisions based on wishes expressed in a living will.
- A do-not-resuscitate order (DNR) is put with a patient’s chart when the patient doesn’t want to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if their heart stops or breathing ceases. A doctor needs to sign these DNR orders before they can be placed in the patient’s charts.
Advance care planning can be a sensitive topic for families and those with dementia.
Getting medical and legal advice early is helpful in planning advance care. Involving the person with dementia in the planning process also helps families ensure that the wishes of the patient are respected.
Reference: Health News (Jan. 11, 2023) “Can Someone With Dementia Sign Legal Documents?”