Tuesday, 15 September 2015 00:00

Advance care planning - decisions and statements

After a diagnosis of a terminal illness there are a number of ways you can prepare for your future care, this is often referred to as “advance care planning”.
Part of managing a disease is being able to retain full control over how it is managed.  This includes making advance decisions regarding treatments and which family members have the power to act on your behalf if you are unable to, for example towards the late stages of Alzheimer’s.  This does not only pertain to treatments, but also to managing your finances and who will be responsible for your care and welfare.  It allows you to decide whether or not you want certain treatments and cannot be forced into treatments or care options should you not wish to, even when you are unable to say so. 
It is very important to include a will in the advance care plan and ensure that it is updated, taking into account possible future changes such as grandchildren or the death of the person you have appointed as power of attorney.
Advance decisions are legally binding as long as they fulfil certain requirements, and are often related to treatments that you do or do not wish to have as well as life sustaining preferences. This ensures that even doctors and other medical professionals have to carry out your wishes, even if it is against their better judgement.
Advance statements can be made verbally, although it is preferable that they are written down. A statement can be so detailed that it can even include your religious food preferences and practices as well as how you would prefer to maintain personal hygiene such as having a bath instead of a shower.
The Alzheimer’s Society UK has put together an information factsheet and advance care documents which outline the requirements, although the documentation can only be legally filed in England and Wales and does not adhere to laws of other areas.
You can download an advance decision form here or contact The Alzheimer’s Society for more information.
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