Exploring Dementia, Part 3: Advance Planning for Home Care, Medical and Legal Issues
Today, we continue our series on dementia and how to deal with its presence in senior home care scenarios. Previously, we looked at causes of dementia, as well as recognizing common warning signs of dementia. Now, we will talk about what is potentially one of the most uncomfortable topics: planning for various medical and legal eventualities.
In theory, just about anyone – even those in good mental health – should do some thinking about end-of-life issues. However, for someone showing signs of dementia, the issue becomes more critical. Their ability to make these decisions will degrade day-to-day, so the sooner such issues can be resolved, the better.
Understanding the Need for Planning
Many seniors may be resistant to engaging in medical and legal planning, particularly if they are still trying to fully accept their growing dementia. Generalizing scenarios is impossible, but a good approach is to frame the issue in terms of making life easier for both them and their family and giving them the power to make choices.
Even if seniors foresee many years ahead before the dementia truly disables them, taking care of major questions early can prevent a lot of hardship later.
End-of-Life Medical Issues
The medical questions to address are straightforward, and can be boiled down to some simple but tough questions:
- Where would they prefer to spend their final years, such as at a residential facility or receiving home care?
- How aggressive should medical treatments be?
- How much quality-of-life would they trade for extra months or years? Do they wish to enact a living will?
- Do they have any religious or spiritual beliefs which are important to consider?
When possible, these questions should be addressed in consultation with a doctor or medical lawyer, as some – such as living wills – may require documentation.
Legal planning mostly revolves around basic estate issues. Individuals should have a full inventory of their assets made, and should have an up-to-date will. In many cases, wishes for the handling of their final months/days or medical requests may need to be put in legal documentation as well.
Probably the most important decision is designating a family member with Power-of-Attorney. That is, giving a family member full authority to make decisions on the senior’s behalf in the event he/she becomes incapacitated and unable to answer for themselves. The selected person would then become the point of contact for doctors, as an example, to decide and approve medical treatments.
Trust Neighborly Home Care for Compassionate Assistance
Neighborly Home Care makes lives easier for seniors with dementia and their families. Our caregivers are dedicated to making the lives of seniors as happy, healthy and independent as possible. Contact us today to learn more about our services.