Advance decision (Living wills)

For many people with dementia, there will come a time when you aren’t able to make decisions for yourself, such as choices about your care and treatment. This ability to make these decisions is known as ‘mental capacity’. There are a number of things you can do now to make sure your wishes are taken into account if you lack mental capacity in the future. These are often referred to collectively as ‘advance care planning’ or planning ahead.

Advance decisions and advance statements are two of these ways. They ensure that your wishes about your care and treatment are taken into account in the future. They can ensure that you are not given treatment that you do not wish to receive, or that your family have power to act on your behalf if you wish them to. This page explains how advance decisions and advance statements work, and what they can and cannot do. It also provides practical advice and a form to help you to draft an advance decision.

Advance decisions and advance statements are just one aspect of planning ahead. You might also want to give someone ‘power of attorney’, so they can make decisions on your behalf, or to think about putting your finances in order and making or updating a will. 

The information provided is for people living in England and Wales. It is not intended for those living in Northern Ireland, where the laws about advance decisions do not apply.