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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Health care decision planning important for CT residents

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Friday, April 19, 2024   

With Alzheimer's cases on the rise in Connecticut, experts say people should consider early health care planning.

A new report shows around 77,000 of Connecticut's 65 and older residents were diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2020.

Jessica Empeño, national director of clinical engagement and education for Compassion & Choices, noted the figure is below other estimates, but understanding a person's care wishes is a good first step. She added it isn't just about the big things, but the little ones, too.

"Being able to look out the window and have my coffee in my favorite mug every morning is what's important to me, right?" Empeño suggested. "It can start with those little things that help people understand who you are and what you hope for in your final phase of life."

Compassion & Choices' Dementia Values and Priorities tool is online. It helps people document their health care wishes before developing dementia or an illness affecting their decision-making abilities. Empeño thinks people should update their plans every five to 10 years, rather than creating them just once.

Not having a person's wishes creates challenges since they may not want certain treatments. People might delay planning because it can be hard to have the conversations. Empeño acknowledged misconceptions can also make it difficult to plan health care.

"In planning, a lot of people don't realize that if they move, or if they're traveling frequently, or receiving care in other states, that you might need to have more than one advance directive," Empeño pointed out. "That is not something that is really often known or discussed."

She added education is an essential part of health care planning. People should research what treatment options are right for them, medications, and side effects. A common mistake in health care planning is completing an advance directive but not telling anyone about it.

Disclosure: Compassion & Choices contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Health Issues, Senior Issues, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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