Written by Active Minds on Wednesday the 20th of January 2016.
Being told you have dementia can be an overwhelming time, both for the person diagnosed and for their friends and family. While it is important to take your time in coming to terms with and understanding the condition, there are a few key decisions that will probably need to be made early on. Dementia is, after all, a progressive condition so planning for the future is always a good idea.
The first thing to understand is a dementia patient’s right to consent. This normally means the person’s right to be asked their permission before being submitted to any tests, treatments, or therapies but can also cover their rights concerning the management of their finances and property.
As dementia progresses, a person may no longer be able to understand or communicate the necessary information needed to give their consent. At this stage, decision-making often falls to friends, family, and medical professionals.
If you or a loved one has received an early diagnosis however, you will be able to have a say in your treatment by creating an advance care plan. This will cover any treatments you would be willing to have – or any you would not consider – as well as end of life care and your wishes in those circumstances. Make sure to specify if there are any procedures you are not willing to undergo, or to define any conditions in which you would or would not consider a certain type of treatment. Being very clear at this stage will ensure that the person with dementia has complete control over their future care and that their right to consent has not been waived.
It’s also important to identify a trusted power of attorney, or someone who you would like to be responsible for decisions regarding your care, treatments, finances, and property should you become unable.
It is for these reasons that an early diagnosis is crucial when it comes to dementia. Being aware of the condition in its early stages gives you the best chance at having a say in your future.