Take precautions

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.

Legal assistance

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.

Living will

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.

Home and surroundings

Their own home and a familiar living environment give people with dementia a sense of security. This can be very simple tips that make everyday life easier. They can help to ensure that people with dementia can live in their own homes for as long as possible. And they can help ease the worries of relatives.

Examples for more safety

  • Fitting a stove safety device
  • Removing any tripping hazards
  • Ensuring adequate lighting
  • Creating a well-structured daily routine 
  • Putting up notes / memory aids
  • Establishing routines, such as always keeping keys and purse/wallet in the same place. 
  • Using a GPS tracking system. This means that people with dementia can move about freely, but can be found by their relatives if necessary. 


The long-term care insurance fund partially covers the costs of conversions if they help the person live independently at home. This can include the fitting of grab rails, the installation of a floor-level shower, laying non-slip flooring or the removal of thresholds. This requires the recognition of a long-term care grade. Costs of up to EUR 4,000 can be covered.



or from the regional Alzheimer's societies: www.deutsche-alzheimer.de/adressen

Further information