The later stages of dementia

5. What you can do: advance decisions and lasting powers of attorney

In England and Wales people can write an advance decision to refuse treatment (sometimes written as ADRT and previously known as a living will or advanced directive). Find out more about advance decisions.

This sets out the types of treatments they would not want doctors to provide at the end of their life. This is important as it means that people in the early stages of dementia have the opportunity to shape and make choices about any palliative care that they may need as the illness progresses. It also enables healthcare professionals to provide the best person-centred care and treatment they can. Person-centred care is an approach that focuses on the person as an individual.

In Northern Ireland people are able to make an advance directive, which is similar to an advance decision. An advance decision (or advance directive) needs to be made when the person is still able to make decisions for themselves so it is important to start thinking about it early on.

In addition to making an advance decision to refuse treatment, people in England and Wales may also make a lasting power of attorney (LPA) which appoints someone to make decisions about their treatment and care on their behalf - once they have lost the ability to do so for themselves.

This can include decisions about refusing life sustaining treatment. LPAs are not available in Northern Ireland. People in Northern Ireland should contact Alzheimer's Society's Northern Ireland office for more information about the alternatives.

Read more about Lasting power of attorney in England and Wales.

Read more about Enduring power of attorney in Northern Ireland.