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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

New online tool helps people with dementia document future care decisions

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Monday, April 22, 2024   

The number of U.S. residents aged 65 or older living with Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, is expected to double from nearly 7 million to 14 million by 2050, according to a new report.

Dementia is a progressive disease which gets worse over time, eventually making it impossible to communicate or make decisions.

Jessica Empeño, national director of clinical engagement and education for Compassion & Choices, explained a new online tool can help people plan ahead so their wishes can be honored.

"The people around them -- whether it be their family, their loved ones, their health care team -- know what is important to that person and what types of care they hope for in the future," Empeño emphasized.

Compassion & Choices' free Dementia Values and Priorities tool is designed to help people communicate and document their future health care wishes before developing or in early-stage dementia. A series of questions and educational videos guides users through a range of changes commonly seen in the disease's progression.

Kim Martin, a resident of the southwest Colorado town of Hesperus, used the tool after receiving her Alzheimer's diagnosis. She had become increasingly anxious about what the future would bring and said the tool helped her specify her intentions so her husband and children would have no doubts about how to support her.

"Being able to get it all on paper and tell it to my family really improved my outlook and really improved my ability to move past that stage," Martin noted.

Empeño stressed the value of documenting end-of-life health care decisions cannot be overstated, especially for women, who represent nearly two-thirds of Americans 65 or older living with Alzheimer's. She encouraged people to use the tool, share the documents with the people you love and trust, and help them understand what is most important to you.

"While completing the legal documents is really important, the most important point is having the conversation," Empeño pointed out. "The best way for you to get the kind of care that you want, especially at the end of life, is to have those really important conversations."

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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