Receiving an initial dementia diagnosis can be an extremely worrying time, whether the diagnosis is for yourself or a loved one. When considering what the future holds, our first piece of advice is to reach out to trusted friends and family members or our Wayfinders for any help, advice or support you may need.
To be sure that your wishes, (or the wishes of the person who is living with dementia) will be met in the future, it’s a good idea to start planning straight away. If you have been diagnosed with dementia, consider the following ways to plan for the future:
Start discussions soon with family members about what your wishes are.
Put important papers in one place and make sure a trusted person knows where they are.
Update documents as situations change, these could include financial or medical documents.
Decide on any health care directives and ensure they are placed in all medical files.
Give your doctor or lawyer advance permission to talk directly with a caregiver if needed and work out who that caregiver will be.
Take some practical steps towards personal empowerment, such as making sure your home is equipped to protect your safety.
It is important to remember that continuing to live your life in a positive way really is possible – you just need to find your own personal way to do it.
Long term dementia care planning considerations
Over time, your experience of living with dementia will change, for this reason, long term planning for dementia care is important. Try to address the following points when planning for the future.
Consider future housing options where it is appropriate (sheltered housing, extra care housing, Shared Lives care, residential care homes, nursing homes).
If you are the person who has been diagnosed with dementia, consider making an advance statement to express your wishes, feelings and values regarding subjects such as care provision and medical decisions. It can even include a bit about you personally, for example, what foods you like and what your hobbies are. This will enable people to be certain that your wishes are always met.
Consider medical decisions such as Advanced Decision to Refuse Treatment (ADRT) – these may include Do Not Intubate (DNI) and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders.
If it is a loved one who has the dementia diagnosis then, before you start making plans, it’s important to establish what stage they are at in the dementia journey and whether or not they will be able to remain independent at home.
Financial & legal planning considerations for people with dementia
There is likely to come a time in a person’s dementia journey when they are considered no longer able to fully understand the financial changes they are making and the effect that it might have. Therefore, it is important to take early-stage actions to ensure that your wishes for your finances will be followed through. It is advisable to do the following:
Make a Will that has been prepared by a professional legal adviser. Part of a legal professional’s role is to assess testamentary capacity; therefore your Will cannot be contested on these grounds.
Nominate a lasting or enduring Power of Attorney (POA) for financial and health / medical / welfare decisions
Think about how you will pay your bills. Would it be useful to move to Direct Debit, for example, so that you can be certain you do not fall behind on payments?
Cameron James Legal and Irwin Mitchell hold free information clinics at Sage House to help with Powers of Attorney (PoA), Wills, and Advanced Directives. You will find advice and guidance on your personal circumstances and how you could progress.
Book an appointment via the Sage House reception desk or over the phone.
End-of-life planning for the future
This topic can be uncomfortable to think about but end-of-life planning early on helps to ensure you are treated in the way you would wish. Consider quality of life planning as well as ways which may extend your life expectancy.
Make sure that there are clear instructions as to how you would wish for things to happen throughout the later stages of your life. In addition, you may wish to make sure that plans are in place for your funeral arrangements as well as giving consideration to whether you would be interested in organ and tissue donation or allowing your brain to be donated for Alzheimer’s Research.
Living well with dementia
In the early stages of dementia, it’s important to focus on what you can do, rather than what is changing, this will help you to view the future more positively. Continue doing what you love, whether that’s socialising with friends, exercising, walking, painting or reading.
Remember, help is always at hand. Here at Sage House, in addition to providing our Wayfinder advice and support for people living with dementia, we also have several dementia support groups available, including our “My Future Care Matters” group as well as the Empowering People Living With Dementia & Empowering Carers groups. To find out more information, get in touch with a member of our team today on 01243 888691.