Planning for Alzheimer's Disease with Mental Health Advance Directives

Lisa Ellen Brodoff


Mental Health Advance Directives (MHAD) have long been used for life planning in the context of debilitating mental conditions such as dementia and schizophrenia. As early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease has become increasingly more possible, Professor Brodoff argues in this Article that MHADs can be an extremely effective tool for planning for a future with Alzheimer's disease. Professor Brodoff suggests that all attorneys who assist clients with estate planning create a MHAD, particularly those clients who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and those with the disease in their families. The MHAD is designed to aid caregivers and medical professionals with determining the best methods for administering care for this individual, listing particular life values, preferred methods of care and treatment, and other life decisions, such as how to finance long-term care, when to stop driving, and how to handle future intimate relationships. Professor Brodoff argues that this will result in better care tailored to a particular individual's needs and increased patient involvement in his or her own decision making, which reduces the burden of shifting the decision making to a family member or other caregiver.