Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said advance care planning is essential planning for everyone and especially important for people living with dementia.
“Dementia is a progressive condition that can impact memory, understanding, and reasoning. Although you can live well with dementia, as the condition progresses, it is likely that there will be a time when the person with dementia loses the capacity to make decisions for themselves,” Ms McCabe said.
“Planning ahead is putting instructions in place so your choices are known and acted on if later in life if you cannot express these choices yourself. It also helps loved ones support your decisions should they be nominated to act on your behalf.”
Ms McCabe said the topic of advanced care planning may be difficult to initiate with family, close friends or healthcare workers, however many people often express a sense of relief after having these conversations. It ensures your wishes are known to those who will be involved in your future care.
“Dementia Australia’s ‘Start2Talk’ website provides practical and accessible details to break down the barriers associated with these discussions about advanced care planning,” she said.
“It can be less daunting to approach the topic of advance planning if you follow a process. The resources available through ‘Start2Talk’ offer a step-by-step guide to support people having these important conversations.
“Having a plan can reduce the impact of immediate changes in family circumstances in the case of a sudden accident, becoming ill or developing a condition like dementia.”
Former carer Margaret experienced first-hand how valuable advanced planning can be when faced with a medical crisis after her husband Bryan was admitted to hospital due to an acute condition related to his dementia.
“Having made a plan eight years before his admission, Bryan’s preferences were known, respected and he received the medical treatment and care he chose,” Margaret said.
“My advice to anyone diagnosed with dementia is to start advance care planning early. Not only did this improve care outcomes for Bryan, being able to hand the advance health directive to the doctor knowing it was what Bryan wanted gave me confidence and made a difficult time for our family a little less difficult.” —