New Advance Directive Provides Peace of Mind if Dementia Strikes

If you have a history of dementia or Alzheimer’s in your family this is a form you may want to consider. In 2019, we started using an Advance Directive form called a “Voluntary Advance Directive for Fluids and Oral Feedings in the Event of Dementia.” It is quite a mouthful to say. The most common question is why is it necessary to have this when you have a Living Will or a completed Medical Order for Scope of Treatment, also know as a MOST form, or Five Wishes form. The short answer is because it is not truly covered in those documents.

Living Wills, a MOST form or Five Wishes form all deal with the type of treatments you want done if you are facing a vegetative state or terminal illness. These are good forms to have and they help guide your medical agent and doctor so you get the type of care you want in the event you are facing a vegetative state or terminal illness. What they do not cover is a situation where you are suffering from dementia.

Dementia is a state where your brain cells have been damaged to the point it is affecting your ability to communicate. It essentially can affect your thinking, behavior, and feelings. Not everyone will suffer from dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia. It is also not a normal part of aging. Having dementia or Alzheimer’s is not the same as having a terminal illness or being in a vegetative state. There are many different causes of dementia. For more information you may wish to check out the Alzheimer’s Association.

Should your loved ones find themselves in a position where you are suffering from dementia and are being cared for either by independent caregivers or in a facility, there may come a time when a doctor asks if your loved ones know what you would want when it comes to oral feedings or fluids. Oral feedings include being fed by another person either a normal meal or foods that have been softened or liquefied/pureed. Fluids generally mean a liquid form of nourishment administered through a feeding tube or intravenously. If you have moderate to advanced dementia you may not be able to communicate your desires. If you have completed this Advance Directive, then your agents will know exactly what your wishes are.

This Advance Directive provides information for when you can no longer feed yourself. The options are simple. They cover two circumstances: 1) if you want to have food and liquids withheld; or 2) if you want to continue to be fed by others when you cannot feed yourself. Option one is self explanatory. Option two basically says you want to be fed until you refuse all forms of nourishment. It also specifies what you want to be fed and for how long.

This document speaks for you and provides guidance to your loved ones and medical staff when you cannot do so yourself. If you have a family history of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease it can be a helpful tool in your estate plan. As always consult with an attorney to determine whether or not this form is right for you.

Written by June F. Bourrillion, Esq. for