- A durable power of attorney for health care: this is a relative or friend who makes health care decisions if the person with dementia cannot do so. The person with memory loss makes their own decisions as long as they are able.
The power of attorney document should specify that the power is durable. If the power of attorney does not state that it is durable, it ends if the patient becomes incapacitated.
- A living will that covers a person’s wishes for medical treatment near the end of life. It covers topics like whether a person would like to be put on artificial life support.
- A do not resuscitate order, or DNR, which asks health care professionals not to perform CPR if a person’s heart stops or they stop breathing.
3. Advanced directive for financial and estate management
Documents outlining how to handle financial matters also must be created while a person has the legal capacity to make their own decisions. Advance directives for financial and estate management include:
- A durable power of attorney for finances designates someone to make financial decisions when the person with memory loss loses the capacity.
- A will to cover how a person’s assets will be distributed upon their death. This could include instructions for funeral or burial arrangements.
- A living trust appoints someone to manage your financial resources when you can no longer handle them. All of the financial resources are added to the trust and you appoint a trustee to manage them based on your instructions.
Medical release form: sign a medical records release form at the doctor’s office to be sure a friend or relative who is helping coordinate care will be able to see their health records. If a person with memory loss has more than one person assisting with their care, such as a spouse and adult children, each person must be mentioned in a release.
4. Research the cost of care and financial resources
Over time, the person with memory loss will become less independent and require help from caregivers. Research the cost of care for things such as:
- In-home care services
- Full-time residential care
- Adult daycare
- Prescription drugs
- Safety-related expenses for the home, such as grab bars in the shower.
Consider all your financial resources including
- Insurance – both life and long-term-care
- Employee or retirement benefits
- Personal assets
- Veterans benefits
- Social Security Income
- Free support programs like Meals on Wheels
Taking the costs and your budget into consideration, create a care plan for your loved one. Can they remain at home with help from a caregiver? If the budget permits, would they be happier moving to an assisted living center with social and entertainment activities?
Help with planning
If you are supporting a person with dementia, the doctor’s office will help with the health care directives. If the medical practice includes a social worker, that person might complete the forms or refer you to local resources.
Most of the documents mentioned above involve simply filling out and signing forms. If you need an elder law attorney or other assistance, here are a few resources: