If you or someone you love has dementia, or if you want to plan for that possibility, we encourage you to think ahead about dementia care planning. An enormous piece of dementia care planning is creating an advance medical directive (AMD). AMDs are crucial for three reasons:

1. Dementia is a growing cause of incapacity.

Dementia numbers are not decreasing. Right now, there are over 5 million Americans diagnosed with some type of dementia. The numbers continue to grow, and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

When people think about creating an AMD, they traditionally think of needing it in case they are in a coma. While this does happen to some people after accidents, physical anomalies, or unsuccessful surgeries, statistically, you are much less likely to enter a coma than you are to develop dementia. You need an advance medical directive to prepare for any type of physical or mental incapacity, with dementia being a major cause of incapacity in the U.S.

2. Once dementia progresses far enough, it is too late to create an AMD.

Once you lose a certain amount of your mental faculties, it is impossible for you to create your own advance medical directive, from both a practical and legal perspective. If you want to control how you are cared for if you develop dementia, you must put your instructions in place now.

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with dementia, this Diagnosis Dementia Checklist offered by Insight Memory Care Center is a helpful tool to get started on the right path.

3. Dementia may worsen for a long time without ending a person’s life.

As dementia progresses, it shuts down your body, often to the point that you cannot verbalize what you do or do not want. Depending on the type of dementia, you may live in this condition for a long time. Issues of care become vital when there is a possibility that you may live for an extended time without the ability to speak for yourself.

There is even such a thing as a dementia care directive that is specific to the disease. It allows you to be more specific about the type of care you would want if you were to develop Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. While we do not draft this specific kind of directive, it is a tool that some people find helpful.

Dementia Care Planning Doesn’t Need to Feel Overwhelming

In many dementia cases, people receive care they don’t need or want because they did not create an advance medical directive while they were coherent. Don’t be one of them! If you or a loved one are showing signs of dementia, act now; there are many resources available to you.

If you are local to Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, we would love to talk with you about creating your dementia care plan, particularly your AMD. You can schedule an appointment with us here.  Another great organization to help you with dementia care planning is Insight Memory Care Center in Fairfax, VA. They are a non-profit organization that is doing wonderful things to assist and educate dementia patients and their families. We hope you’ll check them out!


Joshua E. Hummer, Esq. is a licensed attorney who has been admitted in both Virginia and West Virginia. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and has been practicing for over 15 years. While experienced in many parts of the law, Josh specializes in estate planning, estate administration, and elder law.