Getting Out Ahead of Dementia

I’ll Be Me (2014) is the touching documentary about legendary singer/songwriter Glen Campbell and his experience with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. One of the great positive messages in Glen Campbell’s story is how his family and friends helped him get out ahead of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Doing so made everyone’s experience with the situation infinitely more bearable.

At Mission, we regularly encounter situations where an individual’s decision-making is compromised by some form of dementia. Some individuals are self-aware; others are not. Either way, it is common for families to struggle with the situation, particularly as it relates to recognizing that it’s time for someone to help with money matters and healthcare. Dr. Barak Gaster, from the University of Washington School of Medicine, calls out the challenge: “At what point, if ever, would they not want medical interventions to keep them alive longer? A lot of people have strong opinions about this, but it’s hard to figure out how to let them express them as the disease progresses.”

One helpful plan is for individuals to establish advance directives incorporating decisions relating to dementia before the problems arise. Here are two articles that provide good context for how planning makes a difference:

We encourage our readers to review some of the comments about the articles. They, too, are insightful. You may find them by clicking the speech bubble near the top of the article.

We do not hold the “dementia-specific advance directives” referenced in these articles as a “be all and end all” to address dementia and healthcare decisions. However, these documents can easily serve as a starting point for dialogue with one’s family, attorney, and physician. We encourage our readers to work with their personal attorney and physician to draft estate planning documents, including advance directives, that are appropriate for their particular situation and respective state laws.

Source: nytimes.com

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