Because of the progressive nature of dementia, it is important to discuss legal considerations early. Helping Dr Zheng establish an advance care plan and appoint a power of attorney, ensures future treatment plans are based on his wishes and values, and helps to avoid problems and disagreements later in the course of the disease.
Advance Care Plans
Advance care planning is a process that will enable Dr Zheng to make decisions about his future health care in consultation with his health care providers, family members and other important people in his life. In this way, he can make his thoughts, feelings and wishes known and these can then direct ongoing care planning and assist in decisions that may need to be made in the future.
Patients wishes should be considered by health care workers. This is a moral and ethical requirement regardless of whether a given jurisdiction provides a legal framework for recognition of written advcance care plans.
Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)
Dr Zheng may choose to appoint an enduring power of attorney to manage his financial affairs. He can decide whether the person he appoints can have the power to make decisions for them immediately or only after he loses capacity.
An EPA can only be made by an adult who has the capacity to make informed decisions and to understand their implications.
For more information, visit the Office of the Public Advocate.
A will allows Dr Zheng to decide how his belongings and property will be distributed after he dies and must be completed while he is deemed capable.
In the absence of an advance care plan, or where there is dispute regarding treatment, The State Administrative Tribunal can make a Guardianship Order appointing a family member, friend or the Public Advocate to make medical and lifestyle decisions on the patients behalf.