A smiling carer chats with an elderly lady

End of life – making your choices

It is Dementia Awareness Week starting on 4 July. Surveys by doctors suggest that advanced dementia is the illness people fear the most.

I find people often spend a lot of time contemplating inheritance when it comes to drafting their will. Who do they want to leave various possessions to? What is fair? The what ifs? But very little time is spent thinking about what they want to happen to them if they lose the ability to make those decisions.

Shouldn’t you have the right to chose what happens to you at the end of life rather than depend on others to make those decisions for you?

What can you do? The time spent making a will is time well spent. Likewise, putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney to make sure your financial affairs are looked after is important. The third important step that needs consideration is what you like to happen to you if you cannot make health and welfare decisions yourself?

For instance, if you have advanced dementia do you want to be in a £50,000 a year care home? Do you want to be looked after at home? Do you want to place the burden of dealing with these often agonising decisions on your family or would you rather set them out in an advance medical decision?

An advance medical decision allows you to tell your doctors, family and carers what you want to happen in terms of treatment, surgery, resuscitation, drug treatments etc. They enable you to plan for when you cannot plan.

Alternatively, using a Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, you can appoint someone else to make those decisions if needs be.

Many people have strong wishes, beliefs and preferences about what they would like to happen to them at the end of life. Very rarely are they properly recorded so they are respected.