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Dementia affects over 850,000 people in the UK and is expected to reach 1 million by 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Society. While the disease predominantly affects those over 65, there are 40,000 younger people with dementia in the UK.
As part of Dementia Awareness Week, Marie Tisdale, director of wills and probate at Ansons Solicitors in Cannock and Lichfield, outlines five facts about dementia which highlight the importance of planning ahead and making a lasting power of attorney.
1. Dementia could happen to anybody
While it is true that dementia is not a natural part of aging, it could potentially happen to anyone, at any point in their life. It is therefore important for everyone, of every age to address this risk by putting plans for your future in place.
2. Dementia affects your ability to function
Dementia is the name used for a collection of symptoms, including memory loss and problems with communicating and reasoning, which are caused by diseases of the brain. These diseases affect your ability to function and, if this happens before you have put a power of attorney in place, you will not be able to prepare one. The decision about who will manage your affairs can only be made by applying to the Court of Protection and you will have no choice in who they appoint. By making your power of attorney early, you can choose someone you trust to act for you if it becomes necessary.
3. Dementia is progressive
All types of dementia are progressive, meaning that the brain becomes increasingly damaged over time, with a number of different stages. Your ability to remember, understand and communicate declines gradually. However, the rate of progression of dementia is entirely dependent on the individual. Some people may stay in the very first stage of dementia for a number of years, while others decline rapidly. Early symptoms are often easy to miss and often dementia is only diagnosed once a person has lost capacity, making it too late to make a power of attorney. Applying to the Court of Protection can take months, in which time your condition may deteriorate significantly.
4. You can live well with dementia by managing the disease
While dementia does make it harder to do some things, with the right support and forward planning, it is possible for someone with dementia to live a full, happy life. By being proactive and appointing an attorney now, you have the opportunity to discuss your future care options and make your wishes clear to them. Having a power of attorney ready can also affect the type of care you receive. For example, being able to release funds quickly from your home could enable you to get into the care home of your choice much faster.
5. You can keep control with dementia
There are two types of lasting power of attorney:
• financial affairs – to look after your property and manage your assets; and
• health and welfare – to make decisions about your care and medical choices.
You can appoint one person to act for you for both types or you can choose a different representative for each. By doing this, you get to choose exactly who will act for you and keep control, even if you have lost mental capacity.
Click here for more information on Dementia Awareness Week.
For more information on making a lasting power of attorney, contact Marie Tisdale on 01543 267981 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ansons Solicitors has offices in Cannock and Lichfield, Staffordshire.