An Advance Medical Directive (AMD) is a legal document signed by a person in advance, informing their doctor that they do not want any extraordinary life-sustaining treatment to be used in the event that they become terminally ill and unconscious.
Making an AMD is a voluntary decision. As medical technology advances, there are increasingly many ways of extending a person’s life. This means that people can live longer even with a terminal illness. Extraordinary life-sustaining treatment is any medical treatment which serves only to prolong the lifespan of terminally ill patients but does not cure the illness. For example, a respirator connected to a patient to assist with breathing is not a treatment and does not bring about healing for the patient.
A person living with dementia may not be able to express their wishes to continue or stop treatment. Some people may prefer to pass away naturally in peace and not extend treatment. In the situation that a person living with dementia is not able to communicate their wishes to the doctor in the future, the doctor will be guided by their AMD.