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HORIZON HOME CARE BLOG

Alzheimer's and Advance Directives: Figuring out Dad's Wishes

Question

How do you get someone with Alzheimer's to fill out advance directives?

"I am having a difficult time trying to get my dad to fill out his advance directives. He cannot focus on the questions.  He is living with me because has early Alzheimer's and was not making it on his own.

It would be best if I had a Power of Attorney to manage Dad's financial affairs. While he has no money, he does have medical bills and other expenses to manage. He needs his advance directives completed. How do I get this accomplished?"

 

Answer

It is possible your father may no longer be capable of making an advance directive, as he may struggle making sound decisions. If your father is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, he is lucid at times and less so at other times. Getting an individual to sign an advance directive when they do not understand what they are signing could invalidate the advance directive, should it be challenged. 

I recommend the following:

  1. Verify your thoughts on your father's competence with his physician.
  2. If his physician agrees he is capable of making an advance directive, speak with your siblings. I am assuming, based on your description, that Dad does not have a spouse.
  3. Sit with your father and siblings on a “good” day and attempt to discern his wishes. That, after all, is the purpose of his advance directive.
  4. Complete the forms with your father and siblings present.
  5. Have him sign the forms with a notary present. You will need to prearrange this.

If his physician feels he is incapable of making informed decisions, then you will need to be appointed guardian by a court. It is a far greater hassle that way, though that is how our system works. Since money is not at issue here, the process should flow easier than if there was an estate.

I recommend you do a bit of research online about the process and forms, then contact an elder attorney. The process is not overly complicated, though there will be steps to accomplish. Those steps were established to protect the vulnerable members of our society from exploitation. 

While this is a challenging time, have comfort knowing that your situation is very common. While you do this for your father, know your children will be watching and learning from you. As with all things in life, it is best to do it with kindness and love in your heart.

I wish you the best as you journey with your father.
 

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