Advance care planning and Alzheimers disease and related dementia: dont wait to have the conversation
Next to cancer, Alzheimers disease is the disease we fear the most. Canadians over 55 believe its the worst thing that can happen to their health.
There are an estimated 500,000 cases of Alzheimers in Canada- and that number is expected to double over the next quarter century as our population ages. We dont have a cure, and we dont know as much as we should about this insidious disease. But we do know that it has a significant impacts on both the person with dementia and family or friends who take on increasingly larger role as the disease progresses.
One of the most common results of Alzheimers is the loss of speech and memory robbing people living with the disease of the ability to remember past events and communicate effectively with those around them.
Its always important to advance care plan including choosing a substitute decision maker to speak on your behalf if you are not able to do so for yourself but a diagnosis of Alzheimers or another dementia makes it even more critical. By having clear, honest discussions about fears, values and wishes early when symptoms are still mild, people living with dementia can help inform future heath care choices if they are not able to make those choices themselves. In turn, family and friends who may be asked to make health care choices as substitute decision makers will have the information they need to feel confident that those choices would have been what their family member or friend would have wanted.
An advance care plan is always a gift to family and friends during a difficult time but for those who face an uncertain future with Alzheimers, these conversations offer peace of mind during an increasingly uncertain time. Dont wait speak up and start the conversation with family and friends today. You and they will be glad you did.
Alzheimer Society of Ontario
Alzheimer Knowledge Exchange