Planning For The Future

Planning for the future can help reduce your loved one’s anxiety about the uncertainties of the future. Advance planning can also remove much of the decision-making burden from you and other family members. It’s best to make such plans as soon after a dementia diagnosis as possible so that your loved one will be capable of making such decisions.

Advance Directives for a Health Care Plan for Dementia

Advance directives for health care are legal documents that give specific details about what type of care your loved one would like to receive during dementia’s final stages. The most common advance directives for health care are listed below:

  • Ado not resuscitate (DNR) order instructs medical personnel not to perform CPR if the patient stops breathing.
  • Adurable power of attorney for health care authorizes a particular individual (called a “proxy”) to make healthcare decisions on the patient’s behalf when she is no longer able to do so, especially during dementia’s final stages.
  • A living will outlines the patient’s wishes regarding the details of a care plan for dementia, such as whether or not she would like to receive life support. Do not confuse a living will with a will (see below).

Planning for the Future: Managing Financial Affairs

Advance directives for estate management allow your loved one to ensure his estate is distributed according to his wishes after he is gone. Some of the most important financial advance directives are as follow:

  • A durable power of attorney for finances authorizes a particular individual to make important financial decisions on your loved one’s behalf.
  • A living trust authorizes a trustee to hold and distribute property assets.
  • A will gives specific directions as to how your loved one wishes his assets and estate to be distributed. A will makes these wishes legally binding.

Legal Help with Planning for the Future

Elder law attorneys (ELAs) are lawyers who specialize in creating advance directives. An ELA can offer important legal advice and prepare documents, such as a living will, on your loved one’s behalf. If your loved one can’t afford to hire a lawyer, she may qualify for assistance through legal aid, social services or another nonprofit organization.


American Health Assistance Foundation. (2011). Legal matters.Retrieved January 11, 2011, from

Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. (2011). Legal and financial planning. Retrieved January 11, 2011, from

U.S. National Institutes of Health—National Institute on Aging. (2008). Legal and financial planning for people with Alzheimer’s disease.Retrieved January 11, 2011, from