When CBS newsman Mike Wallace died at the age of 93 in early April of this year, few people knew that he was suffering from dementia in the final years of his life. This disease leads to a loss of cognitive capacity and robs us of our ability to make choices. While we cannot currently prevent or cure dementia, we can ensure that if we do lose mental capacity our choices will still be followed.
Lesson 1: Make your medical decisions now.
It’s important to sit down and think about the kind of health care you want to receive if you become incapacitated. Once you make your choices, you can write them down in a Living Will. This Living Will guides your physicians and family members by telling them what kind of medical treatments you do or do not wish to receive.
Lesson 2: Give someone else decision-making authority.
While a Living Will is helpful, it may not be able to address all that can happen. This is why it is important to create a Health Care Proxy or Health Care Power of Attorney. This document will legally transfer your decision-making rights to someone else. You can also make a Financial Power of Attorney that will give another person the right to manage your finances should you lose capacity.