Many caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease wonder about when to consider upcoming legal matters such as advanced directives.
Advanced directives are legal documents that allow an individual to clarify his/her decisions about end of life care in advance-before the symptoms of the disease interfere with decision making. Planning ahead helps friends and family members as well as health care professionals to get clear from the start about exactly what their loved ones want when it comes to end of life decisions.
Clear advanced directives can authorize the person or people who will have the authority to make legal healthcare decision while the individual with Alzheimer’s disease is still able to make legal decisions.
Whether or not your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, it’s a good idea for those 65 and older to arrange for legal affairs in advance. Consider hiring an attorney who practices elderly law or specializes in living wills and implementation of other advanced directives for healthcare planning.
Power of Attorney for health care denotes an individual agent to make all of the decisions regarding treatment, medication or other health care decisions. This person is called the “principal.”
A Living Will allows the person with Alzheimer’s disease to make all decisions including choices regarding health care providers and end of life decisions in advance such as the use of artificial life support systems.
Living trusts enable the grantor or trustor to implement a trust and appoint a trustee to invest and manage assets once the grantor is no longer able to manage his/her own financial affairs due to cognitive impairment.
Although many people opt to hire an attorney to prepare advance directives, many U.S. states have forms that can be filled out for free. If you decide NOT to seek out legal counsel, you can find copies of directives in your state online at the health department in your state, a local library or the American Bar Association.
If you are unsure of exactly what the health care directive forms mean, consider getting legal advice from an attorney who specializes in elder law.
Here are the primary issues that should be discussed when meeting with an attorney:
Health care decision options
Legal options for personal care
Managing finances or property
Options for health care decision making
Options for managing your personal care and property
For more information on elder care legal support, contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline at 1.800.272.3900. To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and prevention, sign up for our 25 topic online course by CLICKING HERE.