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It’s time to plan for the future

The future belongs to those who prepare for it today!

21-27 March 2022 is National Advance Care Planning Week and a great opportunity to consider the plans and decisions you need to make for the future to live positively with dementia.

Ensuring your will, enduring power of attorney, and enduring guardianship documents in place means your wishes will be undertaken in the future.

Many people find it uncomfortable thinking about a future situation when they are very disabled or dying. But talking to your family is important so they know what your future wishes are. You might also find out their thoughts and feelings around the circumstances when you can’t make decisions or are dying.

Many people take the needs and wishes of their family into consideration as part of their plans. This conversation (or conversations) can be really hard, but it’s important to have them now. If you experience conflict in having these conversations with family, consider using the Elder Support and Mediation Service provided by Relationships Australia in your state or territory.

Dementia Australia has a comprehensive workbook to help you in all aspects of planning ahead. You can also watch a webinar on supporting decision making for people living with dementia by Dr Craig Sinclair, Ann Pietsch and Prof Meera Agar via YouTube.

Advance Care Planning

An Advance Care plan or directive is a written document where you specify what health treatments you want and do not want when you’re not able to make those decisions. This is a legal document in some states or territories, but not others.

Talk to your GP, nurse, other health workers and family about future situations where you might have to make health decisions (e.g. if you are no longer able to feed yourself, if you stop breathing). You can also talk to your health professional about the pros and cons of those options and then make a decision based on those discussions.

The Advance Care Planning website helps you make an advance care plan.

This video demonstrates how and why Advance Care Plans are important.

This video discusses planning ahead for people living with younger onset dementia.

Plan for future emergencies

The recent fires, COVID-19 pandemic and floods in Australia are important reminders that we need to plan for emergencies.  People living with dementia may not cope as well with sudden changes of routine or find the added stress of an emergency very distressing. To help you plan for natural disasters, read 5.13 Plan for emergencies and our recent news article: Natural disasters and people living with dementia.

Carers need contingency plans in case something happens to them. Emergency respite care is available via Carer Gateway if you suddenly find you can’t provide care, for example if you become ill or injured, call Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Carer Gateway recommend making an Emergency Care Plan. An emergency care plan makes it easy for someone to take over from you in a hurry. It has all the information about the person you care for in one place, so you can get it quickly and easily.