Having a plan if your mind fades

Most people have heard of standard advance directives, which designate a decisionmaker to direct medical care if an individual becomes incapacitated. But a person with dementia may go through several phases that can last years, beginning with mild, moderate, and then severe.

The point at which dementia patients can no longer direct their own care isn’t predictable or obvious. In a recent article, the New York Times identified a couple of websites that address the choices at different stages and provide sample documents, and links to the advance directives/ durable power of attorney forms legal in each state.

Check out The Conversation Project, which was started by Pulitzer-prize winning columnist Ellen Goodman, and Prepare for Your Care, developed by a geriatrician.

Once a document is completed, experts agree, it needs to be circulated to designated decisionmakers, whether family or friends, and physicians.

The Journal Demography estimates that for those born in 1940, the lifetime risk of dementia at age 70 is 30.8 percent for men and 37.4 percent for women

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