Key principles for planning with, or for, someone else

Key principles

  • Recognise and respect the difficulties faced by the person who is losing capacity.
  • Understand the medical and other factors that may be affecting the person’s behaviour and capacity, such as memory loss and difficulty communicating.
  • Foster the person’s dignity and self-esteem by encouraging them to continue making or contributing to decisions as much as possible.

Approaches to decision-making

  • Allow your role to change as the person’s capacity decreases.
    • Assisted decision-making may involve simple things such as taking the person to meetings and making sure they understand documents.
    • Supported decision-making may involve exploring and explaining issues but allowing the person to make the final decision.
    • Substitute decision-making involves making decisions on behalf of the other person.
  • If you have to make a decision for another person, check if they have given verbal or written directives about how they would want the decision to be made.
  • If they have not given directives, use substituted judgement – what you believe the person would have chosen themselves.
  • If you are not clear what they would have chosen, decide on the basis of their best interest – after weighing up all the information about the situation, including what might be known of their wishes.
  • If you are having difficulties in this role, ask for help and support from family or friends, your GP, or support groups such as those run by Alzheimer’s Australia.

Planning stages: early stages