Dementia Directive

A Living Will for Dementia can be very helpful to medical professionals and family in helping decide care if you are diagnosed with dementia and it progresses to a point where you are no longer able to be involved in healthcare decision making.

A Living Will for Dementia

Many of us have clear ideas about the kind of medical care we would want if we were diagnosed with dementia. While this topic is on many people’s minds, now is the time to discuss your wishes with your family and health care proxy and attach a Dementia Directive to your Advance Directive.

A Dementia Directive is a valuable communication tool to share your views with loved ones, letting them know what you would want in case they have to make medical decisions on your behalf.  This directive can also help families and/or health proxies feel more confident that the decisions they are making on your behalf are closer to what you, their loved one, would have wanted.

A Dementia Directive can lessen the chances that you might get more medical care – or less medical care – than you would have wanted if you develop dementia.

Choosing the right proxy

The most important decision is naming the right person to be your surrogate decision-maker or health care proxy in a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. It must be a person you know will truly go to bat for you and express exactly what your wishes are when you are not able.

We often feel obligated to name our spouse, partner, or a child. The candidate for decision-maker is not a good choice if he or she does not fully support your decisions or is not assertive enough to confront medical and long-term care providers who disagree with your choices.

Select your surrogate decision-maker very carefully. Alternatives to family include longtime friends or hiring a professional, such as a nurse, geriatric social worker, or elder law attorney willing to honor and carry out your wishes. Sometimes naming someone other than family can take the burden off a family member who is unwilling or emotionally unprepared to accept the responsibility.

Finally, a very important component of a peaceful, dignified death from Alzheimer’s is to obtain palliative care. Despite the appropriateness and significant benefit of such care, it is not often used.  A POLST signed by your physician, in consultation with you, is also an important tool for managing your health care if diagnosed with Dementia.

    A Living Will for Dementia

    Version v6.1.   Click to download the document (pdf)

    Contact a Volunteer

    If you have questions, would like to discuss advance care planning further, or need help preparing your advance directives, please contact us.  A volunteer will follow up with you to find out how we can assist.

    “Thank you for the workshop and your work in end of life care. I hope this contribution helps the cause.” C.H.