In December 2011, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed legislation that enables patients to indicate their wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment through the practitioner/physician orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST) form. POLST is a medical order that is completed by a physician or an advance nurse practitioner (APN) and is intended for patients with life-limiting illnesses. The advance planning tool POLST should be established and utilized complementary to, not in place of, advance directives.
More than 68 percent of New Jersey residents know someone who has or had dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, according to a survey conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson’s PublicMind. Dementia is a group of symptoms that can include impairments to one’s ability to think and communicate, as well as memory loss. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. It is a progressive, degenerative disorder that impairs thinking, behavior and memory. Due to the degenerative nature of the disease, those with Alzheimer’s are encouraged to obtain an advance directive, a legal document that can direct medical and financial wishes, even after the point when individuals lose the ability to do so themselves.