It can be difficult to think about planning for the future. Making plans and sharing your wishes with your loved ones can be empowering for you. It will also be helpful for family and friends. A recent report by Solicitors for the Elderly has confirmed that too often people don’t take advantage of the legal tools available to plan ahead.
People with dementia may not know that they can plan in advance; they may believe family members can make decisions on their behalf if they ever cannot. Legally, this isn’t the case.
We recommend planning ahead as a way of ensuring that your wishes are followed. Make sure that those close to you and involved in your care are aware of any plans that you make.
Here are four things to consider when planning ahead
1. Lasting powers of attorney
A Lasting power of attorney (LPA) allows you to give those you trust the power to make decisions for you. This is helpful if there is ever a time when you cannot make certain decisions yourself.
There are two types of LPA; one is for health and welfare decisions, and the other is for financial decisions. Often people make the financial LPA but not the health and welfare one, but the two are equally important.
An LPA for health and welfare enables families to make decisions about care, treatment, and even where someone will live. Without this, families can still be consulted but professionals will make the decision. It is, of course, up to you whether you wish to make either LPA, but it’s important to consider the value in them both.
Alzheimer’s Society offers a digital assistance service to help people create and register LPA forms.
2. Advance decision to refuse treatment
Making an advance decision to refuse treatment (ADRT) sets out any wishes you have about certain medical treatments. You can specify procedures that you do not want to receive in the future. For example, you may not want a blood transfusion or may not want to be resuscitated in certain circumstances.
An ADRT must be followed by health professionals (where applicable) if you were unable to make the decision yourself. ADRTs need to be written down and must contain certain information.
We have a template form to help you create an advance decision to refuse treatment.
3. Advance statements
An advance statement enables you to write down your general wishes and preferences for your future care. This can include anything from your preferences on food, drink and hobbies to where you would like to live.
Advance statements are not legally binding, but must be taken into account if decisions are ever made for you. To go against an advance statement there must be a good reason. You can make an advance statement verbally, but it is best to write it down.
Our booklet, Living with dementia: Planning ahead, provides more information on advance care planning.
Another way to plan ahead is by making or updating a Will. This ensures that the people you want will inherit your possessions.
Alzheimer’s Society has its own scheme that helps with the cost of making or updating your Will.
Learn more about our Will to remember scheme.