Have you thought about end-of-life issues?

Date: Sep 06, 2013

It is important to discuss your end-of-life plans with family and friends, says Ita Buttrose, National President of Alzheimer's Australia.

In a September 5 statement, she said this was all-the-more important for people who have been diagnosed with dementia.

"As the disease progresses, it is likely that the person will lose the capacity to participate in decision making about their end-of-life care," explained Ms Buttrose.

In addition to this, they may not have the capacity to create or make changes to a will. If they do, this can be grounds for someone to dispute a will.

So, Alzheimer's Australia and Palliative Care Australia are doing their utmost to raise awareness about end-of-life issues, and encourage people to ask themselves the hard questions.

Professor Ian Maddocks, a palliative care physician, says that "dementia scares us, just like talking about death scares us". However, it's important that we face our fears and really put some thought into this.

Palliative Care Australia commissioned a survey earlier this year, which asked people who had recently lost a loved one about end-of-life issues.

Of those who took part in the survey, a shocking 50 per cent said they had not discussed end-of-life care issues with their loved one.

Another 15 per cent admitted that their loved one hadn't organised any sort of plan that detailed their wishes.

"People put off thinking about their end of life care for as long as they can," said Ms Buttrose, "but it is important to have these discussions early so that family members can ensure their wishes are carried through."

Both organisations announced at the 12th Australian Palliative Care Conference in Canberra that more training, knowledge and support for people suffering from illnesses such as dementia, as well as their families and health professionals, is needed.

If you haven't yet given any thought to your end-of-life plans, or know someone who hasn't, there's no time like the present.

Craddock Murray Neumann is here to offer you estate planning guidance and advice, should you need it.

There is a lot more to estate planning than organising a will, although creating one of these is an important part of the process.

We can help you understand all the areas involved that you will need to make decisions about, such as life insurance and powers of attorney.

And, if you need to contest a will on the grounds of testamentary capacity, we can assist you with that, too.