ANNAPOLIS, Md. — To mark World Alzheimer’s day today, a new online planning tool is launching that helps people decide end-of-life care wishes in advance if they have dementia and come down with a life-ending ailment.

A survey on dementia shows that 80% of Americans feel a person should have the legal right to put in writing in advance that they want to stop medical treatments and feeding if they reach a specific stage in the disease.

Kim Callinan, president, and CEO of the group Compassion and Choices said a majority of seniors would rather die naturally than live in a reduced state.

“What our tools do is, it allows a person to reclaim their voice and identify the point at which they would want their caregivers and their medical team to support them in allowing natural death to take place,” Callinan said. “And this can reduce years of time that somebody will suffer from dementia.”

Research shows the District of Columbia has the highest rate of Alzheimer’s patients in the country. In Maryland, about 110,000 seniors live with the disease.

Callinan said the tools have 15 questions about what the patient’s values and priorities are. They allow folks to select the level of care they would want, such as ending their suffering with a natural death or receive all available treatments.

“What’s key about it is it gives the person time to really think about what does quality of life mean to me. And it takes the guilt and guesswork out of caregiving for their loved ones,” Callinan said.

More than five million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number is projected to nearly triple by 2060.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

Diane Bernard is a digital and radio journalist based in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area with more than 10 years of journalism experience. Her print and online credits include work for The Washington...

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