DEMENTIA IS AHEAD FOR MANY PEOPLE ARE YOU PREPARED?
Medical science has greatly enhanced the life span. This increased longevity means that you must carefully reflect on what how much treatment you want as you age. Research is revealing that living longer increases the chance of developing dementia, for which there is no cure. It is an illness that can strip you of your dignity, consume your family’s caretaking capacity, and exhaust your financial resources. Many elements of dementia care are not covered by Medicare.
The following three articles will help you understand the complexity of the dementia issue.
In 2015 Paula Span, a well-known journalist, described a man who adapted his Advanced Medical Directives to explicitly state that he did not want to be fed if he could no longer feed himself. Span’s article preceded by two years a troubling situation in Oregon that featured a woman in a nursing home with advanced dementia whom her husband claimed was being fed against her stated medical directives. When her husband filed suit against the nursing home, the court ruled that because she opened her mouth when a spoon was put up to it “she wanted to eat”. It was not viewed as a purely reflexive response.
On January 19, 2018, Span published another article describing the efforts to improve the clarity of dementia directives through the use of forms designating what you would want under mild, moderate, or advanced states of dementia. You can view, download and print the five page document which includes three forms addressing each level of dementia.
This directive is limited in two respects: (1) the choices of treatment are more limited and (2) the implications of choices are not addressed. For more detail, I refer you to the Chapters 3 and 4 in my e-book YOUR LIFE, YOUR DEATH, YOUR CHOICE to understand the implications of twelve choices for treatment. Chapter 5 provides information on the 3 levels of dementia with only one form to complete. You can view and compare my dementia directive, “Situation E” which includes 12 choices (including feeding) by clicking here.
We are a very long way from a solution to this issue. In the meantime, it is important to take the necessary steps of deciding how much treatment you want, having important conversations about your choices with your family, doctor, and health care proxy AND completing one of the forms to ensure that your choices are honored.
HERE ARE A FEW QUESTIONS FOR YOU:
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED DEMENTIA WITH A RELATIVE? WHAT DID YOU SEE OR EXPERIENCE?
ARE YOU AWARE OF DEMENTIA AS SOMETHING THAT MIGHT BE INHERITED IN YOUR FAMILY?
HOW MUCH TREATMENT WOULD YOU WANT? DO YOU HAVE THE RESOURCES FOR THAT TREATMENT? HAVE YOU CONSIDERED WHETHER YOU WOULD TRY TO FIND OUT IF YOU HAD DEMENTIA BY DNA TESTING?
HAVE YOU COMPLETED ANY ADVANCED MEDICAL DIRECTIVES? IF NOT, WOULD YOU CONSIDER DOING IT AND INCLUDING A DEMENTIA FOCUSED DIRECTIVE/
HAVE YOU HAD CONVERSATIONS WITH THOSE IMPORTANT TO YOU ABOUT WHAT YOU WOULD WANT?