It’s important for everyone to execute healthcare advance directives. These include a living will, which documents a person’s desires related to end-of-life medical decisions, and a durable power of attorney, in which someone is appointed to make healthcare decisions if the person is no longer able to do so, due to either a physical condition or reduced mental capacity.
It’s especially important for people with Alzheimer’s to have these documents prepared, if they don’t already have them. This should be done early in the course of the illness when the person is still mentally competent to make such decisions.
When people with Alzheimer’s have not executed advance directives and are unable to make end-of-life healthcare decisions on their own, the caregiver will need to make the decisions for them. These include several different issues over time, such as the use of CPR, antibiotics, hospitalization, a ventilator, use of a feeding tube and, ultimately, engaging hospice care services.
For detailed information about each of these issues see my Huffington Post article, “Make Alzheimer’s End-of-Life Decisions Long Before They Are Needed.”