Caregivers, Health

Considering Advance Directives For Loved Ones With Dementia

Managing dementia has many aspects to it. There’s managing cognitive changes, as well as physical, while also navigating changes socially. As changes start happening, start making plans.

Photo courtesy of Angela Hammond.

One of the first plans to consider is establishing Power of Attorney (POA) and Advance Directives. An individual can assign someone to be their financial POA, it should be someone they trust to make financial decisions on their behalf when they’re no longer able to make good decisions on their own.

What is often misunderstood is that the only person who can assign themselves a POA is the individual himself/herself. A family member doesn’t decide for the individual, so it’s imperative to do this in the earlier stages when the person can clearly and indisputably make the decision. As dementia progresses, oftentimes the individual diagnosed with dementia can become concerned about their money. Is someone trying to steal their money? Do they have enough money? It can be helpful to already have financial matters and overseers established.

What are Advance Directives? This is paperwork that gives an individual the ability to say what they do or don’t want medically at end of life and who makes medical decisions on their behalf when they can’t. This can be an especially difficult conversation to have but it’s so important. What type of life saving interventions does the Individual want when their body is struggling to maintain stability? This is an important piece to remember when discussing Advance Directives; you’re not making the decision for this moment in time when you’re healthy and strong but down the road when healthcare professionals are offering difficult options of prolonging life and keeping a person comfortable.

How does one establish POA and Advance Directives? There are free forms provided by the State of Alabama that can be printed. The POA must be signed in front of a notary. The Advance Directives require 2 Witnesses that are not related to the Individual.

However, an attorney, especially an elder law attorney, is recommended to advise and explain these forms.

Angela Hammond is the Owner & Director of The Day Place in Gardendale, Alabama and a contributor to Gardendale Health.