Last week marked Dementia Action Week, a disease that affects 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 (and over 40,000 people under the age of 65), and which should therefore be more often discussed. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, but not the only one. Dementia describes a set of symptoms that can include memory loss, difficulties with thinking and problem solving, and generally affects a person’s day to day life. Once a person starts suffering with dementia, their family members often wonder what can be done to safeguard their health, and to avoid any unnecessary difficulties in the future.
Following a diagnosis of dementia, it is important to ensure that the person who is suffering (the “donor”) puts in place a Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”) which enables that person to appoint loved ones to make certain decisions on their behalf. An LPA can only be put in place where that person still has mental capacity, so the sooner it is put in place the better.
An LPA is a formal document, registered with the Court of Protection and governed by the Mental Capacity Act 2005, thereby ensuring that the best interests of the donor are safeguarded. A person would usually appoint their friends or loved ones to act on their behalf in the event that they lose capacity, however they can also appoint a firm of solicitors or a trust corporation.
The LPA will enable the attorney to make decisions, as the donor would have done, provided they are made in the best interests of the donor. It means that bills can be paid, decisions as to care can be made, and property can be dealt with on the donor’s behalf.
Previously Dementia Awareness Week, “Dementia Action Week” seeks to encourage more people to take action in raising awareness of this terrible disease. This could be through raising money for charities supporting dementia, or by becoming a “Dementia Friend”. A Dementia Friend learns a little more about what it is to live with dementia, and turns that understanding into action – by telling more people about it or by visiting those living with the disease and helping out in small ways around the house.
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