Advance Directives and Alzheimer’s

Most estate plans include advance directives that state your wishes for health care and end of life decisions.  But, as some families are finding out, these advance directives may not be specific enough for certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

Without a specific directive, some families facing this issue have had to go to court.  The results are usually not favorable for the families.

One such case recently occurred in Oregon.  In this case, the Alzheimer’s patient had previously signed an Advance Directive after being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.  She wanted to prevent her life from being prolonged once the disease became severe.  Her Advance Directive stated that she did not want to be fed through tubes and other mechanical assistance.

However, she was being kept alive by spoon feeding by her nursing home caregivers.  The woman’s husband went to court arguing that his wife would not want to be kept alive in this manner and that her acceptance of food was an automatic response and not a change in her wishes.

The Court found against the family.  The judge said she would not order the facility to stop spoon feeding Nora.

“It’s not a happy decision for me, said the Judge to the husband.  From what you have told me, your wife would hate this.”

The judge went on to say that the advance directive form only speaks to artificial nutrition.  It does not specifically mention food or water presented by hand.

The Law Office of Debra G. Simms can prepare an Advance Directive specifically for dementia and dementia-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s.   This new advance planning document allows sufferers of such diseases to record the specific difficulties associated with these illnesses and to detail what type of health care you want to be followed once you are no longer able to make your own quality of life decisions.

Call the Law Offices of Debra G. Simms at 386.256.4882 to learn more.

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

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