Plan Early if You Have Dementia

By Reader's Digest

Planning for the future in the event of dementia.

Plan Early if You Have Dementia
Illustration: iPhoto

Have you ever wondered what recourse you would have to get help if you were unable to make decisions for yourself as a result of dementia? Paying bills, managing bank accounts, selling property, deciding where to live and which medical treatments to undergo are just a few of the decisions that might need to be made. Here are some points to consider.

Presumption of capacity

Legislation in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia is based on the principle of ‘presumption of capacity’. This means another person can’t simply take over your affairs – no matter how trustworthy and well meaning they may be. Rather, the law assumes that all adults over 18 have the capacity to make their own decisions unless it can be established otherwise.

Soon after diagnosis, make your wishes clear and start protecting your rights. This will provide peace of mind, and give friends and family clarity. Individuals can legally appoint a decision-maker by obtaining an Enduring Power of Attorney (in some jurisdictions called a Substitute Decision Maker).

Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial)

This allows a person to nominate people they trust to manage their financial affairs in the event of mental incapacity, while an Enduring Power of Attorney (Personal/Health Welfare) allows a person to nominate trusted people to make decisions about their health and welfare (these people can be given authority to make decisions about life-sustaining treatment).

These legal anticipatory documents needn’t cost the earth and can be arranged in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Speak with your family lawyer, or go to fightdementia.org.au or nzdementia.org.

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