This month South Australians are being encouraged to ask themselves: if you were unable to speak for yourself, who would speak for you? And what health care and lifestyle decisions would you want them to make?
These questions are at the heart of Advance Care Planning Week, held for the first time across Australia from April 16 to 22.
With rates of dementia on the rise and a growing awareness of the importance of safeguarding the financial security of older Australians, documenting a person’s wishes in a legally binding way is more important than ever.
The best way to do this is to ensure you have an Advance Care Directive, which sets out your wishes around lifestyle, health and end of life decisions and involves appointing a substitute decision maker. You also need to appoint an Enduring Power of Attorney. This involves appointing a substitute decision maker (attorney) – often a family member or trusted person – to manage financial affairs in the event that you can no longer do it by yourself.
People know that they need to have these documents in place, but don’t always know where to start, and put these often emotionally confronting conversations in the too hard basket. We encourage people to have conversations with family or trusted friends early, before there is a health crisis or a change of circumstances, such as a move to residential care, to deal with. That way important decisions can be clearly expressed and documented in consultation with others without being clouded by stress.
We’re finding there is strong demand for our mobile Planning Ahead Advisory Service, which was launched 12 months ago and is set to expand into Victoria this year. This service brings together a team of health professionals to help people understand and set up their Advance Care Directive and Enduring Power of Attorney from their own home or a place of their choosing. We advise on resources, suggest family discussions, help prepare paperwork ready for sign-off and explain the role of JPs who witness and certify forms ready for distribution. We are finding that people value having an independent person guide them through this conversation and advise on wording preferences to document their decisions clearly, leaving no element of doubt.
We specialise in offering these services for people living with early stage dementia who still have the capacity to make their own decisions, helping them have these important conversations, often with their loved ones, so that their wishes are clear when they can no longer make these important decisions for themselves.
We all deserve the opportunity to remain independent as we age. Don’t leave it too late to make your wishes known.
Find out more about ACH Group’s Planning Ahead service here, or phone 1300 224 477.