With Dementia and Alzheimer’s on the rise, there’s a demand for a legal document that covers all of the “gray areas” that come with dementia.
Enter: The Dementia Directive.
In this podcast episode, Randi Siegel, the President of DocuBank, brings awareness of this new directive and why your clients will need this document to protect them.
To learn more: https://www.docubank.com/
In this episode, we explore the vital topic of the Dementia Directive—a specialized legal document for individuals diagnosed with dementia. With the rise of dementia cases in the aging population, understanding this directive becomes essential. Dive in as we discuss its significance and how it fills gaps left by traditional advanced directives.
Understanding the Dementia Directive
The traditional advanced directive, with its checkboxes for treatment options, does not fully address the complexities and progression of dementia. Considering dementia is a chronic degenerative disease with patients experiencing a gradual decline in cognitive and physical abilities, there’s a need for a more specific directive.
Actionable Tip: Lawyers in elder law and estate planning should familiarize themselves with the Dementia Directive. Recognize its importance as it addresses unique challenges faced by dementia patients throughout their different stages.
The Prevalence of Dementia in the Aging Population
Dementia’s prevalence in the elderly population is rising. For individuals over 65, one in nine has dementia. This ratio surges to one in three for those over 85. As life expectancy increases, the occurrence of dementia is becoming more common.
This trend is particularly essential for estate planning and elder law attorneys, given that their clients, especially those who seek late-life planning or come in for restatements, may exhibit signs of cognitive decline.
Actionable Tip: Stay updated with dementia statistics and be attuned to any cognitive changes in older clients. This awareness aids in providing better service and guidance.
The Importance of Recognizing Dementia’s Impact on Assistance
A significant portion of seniors receiving help at home does so because of dementia. Almost half of those over 65 and receiving assistance are affected. As clients age, there’s an increasing likelihood they might need some form of cognitive care or assistance.
Actionable Tip: As clients revisit for restatements or reviews, be observant. Recognizing early signs of dementia can aid in better planning and advice.
Beyond Medical: The Holistic Approach of Dementia Directives
Dementia affects more than just the medical facet of a patient’s life. These directives, while addressing unique medical needs, also factor in non-medical wishes. From choosing living conditions to driving decisions and even the intimate details of nutrition and hydration – they cover it all.
Actionable Tip: When discussing directives with clients, ensure you touch on both medical and non-medical aspects.
The Emergence and Evolution of Dementia Directives
Dating back only about five years, these directives are relatively new but immensely critical. Developed primarily by the medical community, they’re seen as complementary tools offering detailed guidance to healthcare agents, proving invaluable in emergency scenarios.
Actionable Tip: Familiarize yourself with the pioneering institutions and organizations behind these directives, such as Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. Knowledge of these resources equips attorneys with authoritative references when guiding clients.
Unveiling the Importance of Accessible Advanced Directives
When it comes to advanced directives, accessibility is paramount. A compelling story was shared about a spouse whose partner was battling cancer. The doctor asked for the advanced directive. Rushed and distressed, she realized she didn’t have the physical document, but she had her DocuBank card – a digital solution ensuring the immediate availability of directives 24/7.
Actionable Tip: In moments of urgency, especially in medical situations, physical papers can be misplaced or forgotten. Consider transitioning to digital solutions, such as DocuBank, to ensure immediate access to vital documents.
DocuBank: A Digital Powerhouse for Advanced Directives
DocuBank stands as a revolutionary digital directory for advanced directives. Instead of juggling heaps of papers, clients are equipped with a wallet card that has a unique member number and PIN. Hospital staff or family members can retrieve the directives online or request a fax.
Actionable Tip: While email might seem like an obvious solution, many hospitals can’t accept directives this way due to their setup. Understand the restrictions within medical establishments to streamline document access.
Beyond Directives: Maintaining Client Relationships
DocuBank’s services aren’t solely about directives. They have a longstanding history of participating in annual client maintenance programs. This includes renewing document memberships, ensuring that they’re always up-to-date and available.
Actionable Tip: Consistent client touchpoints, such as maintenance programs, can fortify attorney-client relationships. Consider integrating such initiatives into your practice.
Dementia Directives represent a pivotal shift in addressing the needs of dementia patients and their families. Moving beyond the conventional Advanced Directives, they offer a holistic approach, touching on both medical and non-medical facets of care.
For elder law and estate planning attorneys, understanding these directives isn’t just about offering comprehensive guidance – it’s about ensuring peace of mind for patients and their loved ones in navigating the challenges of dementia.