Coping with dementia: protection || Part 3

Generally speaking, people over the age of 18 are able to exercise their rights personally and freely, fulfil their obligations and look after their assets themselves.

However, there are citizens who, for a variety of reasons, cannot consciously and freely exercise these functions without the support or intervention of another person. The ‘Lei do Maior Acompanhado’ regime is intended precisely for the latter.

The law’s aim is to preserve the independence that the person still has and, as far as possible, to increase it. In this sense, a court, after examining all the evidence provided at a hearing and with reference to medical information, will decide which actions the individual can and must continue to practice freely and those which, for their own protection, must be carried out by or with the help of an accompanying person.

There are certain acts that the accompanying person may only perform after obtaining the court’s specific authorisation.

Living wills
Living wills and other advance directives are written legal instructions regarding your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Advance directives guide choices for doctors and caregivers if you are in the late stages of dementia, terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, or near the end of life. Living wills have no power after death.

Advance directives are not just for older adults. Unexpected end-of-life situations can occur at any age, therefore, it is important for all adults to prepare these documents.

By planning ahead, you can obtain the medical care you specifically want, avoid unnecessary suffering and relieve caregivers of decision-making burdens during moments of crisis or grief. You also help reduce confusion or disagreement about the choices you would want people to make on your behalf.

I’m here!
“Estou Aqui” (I’m Here!) bracelets are specially designed for people who, depending on their age or pathology, may become disorientated or unconscious, even momentarily, when in public.

The bracelets are designed to assist in safety and to ensure a speedy reunion with a relative or acquaintance. Activation can be made by the user themselves or by a third party through the option “request institution/carer”.

The bracelet is made up of a comfortable fabric tape and a metal plate with an alphanumeric code and the inscription “call/ligue 112”. The bracelet is free, personal and non-transferable.

To obtain a bracelet, you must register on the website below and then go to the designated police station to collect and activate it.

Alzheimer’s Portugal
The information for this three-part series, published over the past editions, has been provided by Alzheimer’s Portugal, a national, non-profit organisation dedicated to giving advice to people with any form of dementia, members of their families and carers.

Alzheimer’s Portugal has offices backed by municipalities in many parts of the country. Face-to-face consultations with specialists can be arranged by appointment (on their website, go to ‘Onde estamos’).

Facebook: Alzheimer Portugal

By Len Port
Len Port is a journalist and author based in the Algarve. Follow Len’s reflections on current affairs in Portugal on his blog: