As a dementia illness progresses, patients can no longer make legal decisions. In Germany, spouses and children cannot automatically make a decision on behalf of the ill person. Power of attorney or legal assistance regulate who is allowed to make these decisions.
Power of attorney
With a power of attorney for reasons of health, a person can designate a relative or other trustworthy person to make decisions when the person is no longer able to do so due to illness. A power of attorney is only valid if you are legally competent at the time it is created. In the early stages of dementia, a person normally still has the capacity to perform legal acts.
If there is no power of attorney, legal assistance must be obtained from the local mental health court. The court checks the need for care and appoints a (legal) guardian if necessary. This can also be a relative.
A living will is important in order to be able to act in the interests of the ill person if they find themselves in a life-threatening situation, even if the ill person is no longer able to provide more information. In the living will, their wishes for medical treatment, for example, with regard to artificial nutrition or ventilation, is formulated. The patient must be legally competent at the time this is drawn up.
- German Guardianship Law - Information for English-speaking Migrants (Informationen zum Betreuungsrecht), Institut für transkulturelle Betreuung e. V., Hannover