If you have an advance medical directive on file, you are ahead of the curve. Most Americans have not taken this step to ensure their wishes are upheld if they become incapacitated. If you have not created an advance medical directive as part of your estate plan, you should consider completing this important step. Whether you have one or not, you should take the time to ensure that your wishes are recorded regarding what to do in the event that you someday suffer from dementia.
Alzheimer’s and more
While Alzheimer’s disease is not the only cause of dementia, it is perhaps the most well-known. If you have ever known or cared for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, you know that the condition puts a tremendous burden on caregivers and loved ones. A person suffering from advanced dementia lack the ability to recognize loved ones, dress themselves, feed themselves or appreciate any of what goes on around them. A person in this state will be subjected to many forms of care that will prolong life, but possibly at the expense of significant pain.
Most people, when asked, would prefer to be made as comfortable as possible at this point. If their lives could be extended through painful intervention, they would not choose that intervention. A person with dementia can no longer make that choice.
If your loved ones know they type of care you would want in this difficult situation, that is a good first step. It is not enough, however. You need to take the time to include clear instructions as part of you overall estate plan to explain just what measures you approve, or disapprove, regarding care if you are suffering from advanced dementia.
Source: The New York Times, “Alzheimer’s? Your Paperwork May Not Be in Order,” by Jane E. Brody, 30 April 2018