By Martin J. Hagan
People are living longer, and with longevity comes the risk of dementia that as it progresses will render its victims incapable of making their own health care decisions. Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to be the cause of at least half of all dementia cases.
The progression of Alzheimer’s disease from mild to severe stages is irreversible, at least with present treatment options. The only realistic hope is to slow and perhaps stop the progression of the disease, but not to cure it or reverse its effects.
When discussing health care decision-making concerns with individuals who are exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s disease, the first response should be to assure them that they can continue making their own treatment decisions for as long as they are able.
But since the progressive nature of Alzheimer’s disease makes their ongoing ability to make such decisions unpredictable, it is also essential they have legally effective documents that will keep their voice alive regarding their medical treatment choices, and appoint persons of their own choosing to be their advocates. [Read more…]