How can I protect my wishes in the future if I have dementia?

Planning for the future puts dementia patients in control and feel less anxiousDementia is a progressive and neurodegenerative disease, so create a Will and appoint a Lasting Power of Attorney now to protect yourself.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and the number is set to rise to 1.6 million by 2040. That is a staggering sum. The rising prevalence of dementia means we are likely to encounter friends or loved ones living with dementia – or even ourselves may suffer from it. Therefore, it is important to follow a game plan of prevention, early detection, diagnosis and management.

In this article, the Elderly Care Solicitors at Romain Coleman explain the vital steps you can take following an early detection or diagnosis of dementia. By making these plans that will lead to positive outcomes, you will feel in control and less anxious about the future.

What is dementia?

Dementia refers to a set of symptoms that are the result of disorders affecting the brain. It is a neurodegenerative and progressive disease, meaning it worsens over time. The best description is from the Alzheimer’s Association which says “dementia is an overall term for diseases and conditions characterised by a decline in memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking skills that affect a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.”

Can dementia be prevented?

The NHS has made it clear that while no one can prevent all types of dementia, there is good evidence that a healthy lifestyle can help to lower your risk of developing dementia when you are older.

This NHS page mentions that habits and diet that are good for your heart are also good for your brain. This means you can help reduce your risk of dementia by:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Keeping alcohol to a minimum
  • Stopping smoking
  • keeping blood pressure at a healthy level

Early detection is key

The moment that you notice something is not right – like you find it hard to remember things and follow conversations – do not assume it is just part of the normal ageing process. Early detection and correct diagnosis will allow you to access treatments that may help slow down the disease. They will also give you time to plan ahead while you are still able to make important decisions.

According to the Social Care Institute for Excellence website, there is strong evidence that “an early diagnosis helps someone with dementia to continue to live independently in their own home for longer. This helps to avoid early or unnecessary admission to a care home or hospital, enhancing the quality of life for people with dementia and carers and providing substantial savings on long-term care costs. Drug and non-drug treatment can be more effective the earlier someone is diagnosed.”

Planning for the future

On this NHS page, it lists the important steps you can take following a diagnosis of dementia:

  • Getting services and support
  • Making a Will
  • Putting your papers in order
  • Claiming benefits
  • Appointing a Lasting power of attorney
  • Planning for advance care
  • Driving
  • Taking care of your health

The aim of this article focuses on protecting yourself and making sure that your wishes are respected when dementia progresses, and the best approach, in our opinion, is through making a Will and appointing Lasting power of attorney.

Time is of the essence when it comes to creating a Will

You have worked all your life to provide for your family and writing a Will can make sure that your love and care continue after you are gone.

Creating a Will allows you to distribute your estate – your property, money, possessions – according to your wishes after your death. By having your Will in place, your heirs, relatives and charitable causes that are close to your heart can inherit smoothly and cherish your legacy. Without a Will, your loved ones will have no say on how your assets are distributed because the Rules of Intestacy apply – that process is slow, painful, and potentially costly too.

Ideally, everyone should have a Will written and ready, preparing for the unexpected. If you haven’t created a Will and you have just been diagnosed with dementia, time is of the essence because you must now show that you still have mental capacity – being able to understand, remember and use information so you can make decisions about your life. To avoid future complications like disputes among your relatives, our Wills and Probate solicitors will follow procedures to get medical evidence showing that you have mental capacity to make decisions.

Preparing for a Will

Before discussing your Will with our solicitors, take a moment to create a list of items that will form the basis of your Will. They include:

1. List all the assets that you have

Detailing your assets and their values, including property, bank accounts, investments, pensions and sentimental possessions. You must also consider debts like mortgages and Inheritance Tax.

2. Name your beneficiaries

It is natural to include your spouse and children, along with charitable organisations. Decide who gets what.

3. Name your executors

An executor is a person who is responsible for the administration and distribution of your estate. You can name your spouse or one of your children as your executor. It is wise to choose two executors – perhaps a child and a solicitor – in case one of them is not able to carry out the duties.

For more information, take a look at this How to make a Will service page.

Romain Coleman helps you write a valid Will

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of contested estates across the UK. This is bad news because sorting out arguments among relatives may result in costly legal action which will reduce the money in the estate.

DIY wills can also lead to problems. Mistakes like not having it correctly witnessed, omitting assets, making hand-written amendments to your Will are some of the reasons why a Will can be considered invalid. When this happens, the Rules of Intestacy apply and the people you care the most may not be able to inherit.

So save time, money and future complications by creating a considered, clearly-written and error-free Will with the help of our Wills and Probate solicitors.

Establishing in 1964, we have been helping residents in London with our affordable Will writing service. The process is transparent – you know exactly how much it will cost after discussing your circumstances and taking your requirements into consideration. So call us on 0208 520 4555 or use the Contact Form to get in touch.

Appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document that allows you (the donor) to appoint someone you trust as your attorney. Your attorney does not have to be part of the legal profession, as long as they are over 18, trustworthy, and able to make decisions on your behalf to ensure that your affairs are protected.

There are two types of LPAs:

Health and Welfare LPA

This means you appoint an attorney to make decisions concerning your medical care such as:

  • Your daily routine (washing, dressing, eating)
  • Medical care
  • Moving into a care home
  • Receiving life-sustaining treatment (if you have made an advance
    decision, this may be overruled so let your attorney know about your advance decision if you have one.)

Once the health and welfare LPA is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, your attorney can only start to make decisions when you are no longer able to do so.

Property and Financial affairs LPA

This means you can appoint an attorney to make decisions on financial affairs. For examples:

  • Withdrawing money from your bank accounts to pay bills
  • Collecting benefits
  • Selling your home

Once the property and financial affairs LPA is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, your attorney can start to make decisions for you (even when you are still able to deal with these things yourself). Alternatively, you can put your attorney on standby and allow them to take over when you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself.

LPAs are extremely important when safeguarding who can access your finances and assets. You could be vulnerable to things like financial abuse if you do not draw up an LPA. In fact, Age UK published the Financial Abuse Evidence Review which states that ‘those who have dementia or reduced cognitive function are the subgroup of people who are most at risk of being victims of financial abuse’.

Romain Coleman can help to protect your future

Dementia is a progressive disease that makes symptoms worsen as time goes by. Don’t let it rob you of your chances to make future plans that can protect yourself and your loved ones.

At Romain Coleman, our Elderly Care Solicitors are on hand to provide expert advice, making sure that your wishes are respected when you cannot make decisions for yourself. We take time to explain your options without a load of legal jargon. Our services are also transparent and without any hidden charges.

For information on any issue you are facing, speak to one of our easily accessible legal advice team on 0208 520 4555 or use the Contact Form to get in touch.

 

For other information regarding this topic, you might want to look at:

Archives