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5.4 Making decisions now for the future

Selecting someone the person with dementia trusts to act on their behalf and preparing written instructions can ensure that they remain involved in their own care.

In life, there may come a time for everyone when we can no longer make decisions about our own care. It may be tough to think about, but it is something that should be considered. 

Knowing what the person with dementia in your life would want and having it written down allows you (and others) to act on their behalf and respect their wishes.  

Select someone that the person with dementia trusts 

Once you or someone else has talked to the person with dementia about their future wishes, they will need to select one person that they trust, who could speak on their behalf if they were unable to. 

This person can be appointed as the Power of Attorney. ‘Attorney’ in this context does not mean ‘lawyer’.  

There may be provincial or territorial differences related to Power of Attorney in Canada 

Below is some general information to get you started, and additional information can be found on our Provincial Resources Document.

Power of Attorney

Putting a Power of Attorney in place gives the selected person legal authority to make decisions on behalf of someone else.  

There are different types of Power of Attorney:  

  • Power of Attorney for personal care 

A power of attorney for personal care has written legal authority to make decisions around health and wellbeing behalf of someone and will act in their best interest. 

This person is often a close family member, who knows the person’s wishes and will make decisions when they are not able to.  

  • Enduring or continuing Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs.  

This person has written legal authority over finances and property. An Enduring Power of Attorney can be in effect once you sign it and will continue if you become mentally incapable of managing your own finances.   

The Government of Canada has a list of things to consider before writing a Power of Attorney for property. 

The Alzheimer Society of Canada provides detailed information about Power of Attorneys.

Advance Care Planning

Advance care planning can help the person you support get the care they want and need as dementia progresses to advanced stages.  

Simply put, advance care planning includes:  

  • Thinking about your wishes  
  • Learning about your options 
  • Selecting someone to speak on your behalf 
  • Talking about your wishes 
  • Writing down your wishes 

If you have already encouraged the person with dementia to think and talk about their wishes, you are on the right track! 

Advanced Care Planning Canada’s website provides resources, tools and downloadable workbooks to help you and the person you support developing advance care plans and advance care directives. They also provide resources specific to each province and territory.  

You may want to browse this document from Advance Care Planning Canada:

  • Information for New Brunswick starts on Page 17 
  • Information for Ontario starts on Page 25 
  • Information for Quebec starts on Page 29 
  • For other provinces see Page 10 

For additional information about advance care planning tailored to First Nations individuals, click here.

Advance health care directives

Advance care directives are documents that have written decisions about a person’s future health care choices. These decisions might be about their consent, refusal to consent, or withdrawal of consent for care, treatment, or procedures to maintain their physical or mental health.   

In New Brunswick, you can find more information here:  

In Ontario, you can find more information here: 

  • English (resource also available in multiple languages)

In Quebec, you can find more information here: 

What if something happens to me? 

As a care partner, you may be worried about not being available to provide the person with dementia with support.  

Being admitted to hospital, breaking an arm, or dying before the person you love are very difficult situations, but if addressed now can save a lot of heartache. The solutions for everyone are different but having a plan and letting others close to you know where that plan is, can be invaluable in emergencies.  

The information and resources presented on this page may be used for your own use, in addition to supporting the person with dementia.  

You are in control of making your own decisions and planning for your future care, in the same way that the person with dementia in your life should be included in decisions about their future care. 

Plan to continue living your life now

Creating a plan for all sorts of different situations can be a positive step forward and allow you and the person you support to come to terms with dementia.  

Plans can help you feel more secure about your future.

Alzheimer Society of Canada booklet, Ready, Set, Plan – For Care Partner Absence is a useful guide.


One care partner, Linda, said,

I hated the planning. I hated doing our wills. I hated doing advance care plans, I hated all of it, but now that they are done I feel a sense of calm. One good thing that came out of planning is that I involved our children. They realised that their father and I were going to need help in the future and the way they used to dismiss Dan’s problems  – the sort of  Dad’s fine, what are your worried about?’ attitude is now gone. I don’t know what the future is going to throw at us, but we are focussing on enjoying every day, one day at a time” 

Learn about advance care planning

You may want to browse this document from Advance Care Planning Canada: 

  • Information for New Brunswick starts on Page 17 
  • Information for Ontario starts on Page 25 
  • Information for Quebec starts on Page 29 
  • For other provinces see Page 10 

Select someone that the person with dementia trusts

You can support the person with dementia to select someone they trust to be their Power of Attorney to speak on their behalf. 

  • Learn more about Power of Attorney from the government of Canada here.
  • Or, review information from the Alzheimer Society of Canada here.