This month saw the annual Dementia Action Week campaign. The focus of this year’s campaign was on diagnosis and how seeking a diagnosis as soon as possible can help in the care and management of the disease.
Research by Alzheimer’s Society has found that 9 in 10 people living with dementia said getting a diagnosis had befitted them, with on average, two to three recognisable benefits.
One of the ways in which an early diagnosis can be useful is that it allows individuals and families more time to plan and seek professional advice. Knowing what may be coming down the way allows for families to put provisions in place.
One such step is to put Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) in place. An LPA allows trusted family members to access and manage their loved one’s finances once dementia takes hold and they can no longer manage their affairs themselves. It is not always known by families that without official status as a ‘attorney, it isn’t possible to access the bank accounts of a loved one with dementia or make any financial decisions on their behalf.
If you have been recently diagnosed with dementia, consulting a private client solicitor to put Lasting Powers of Attorney in place gives the knowledge that you have chosen someone you trust to manage your affairs whilst you still have the capacity. Whilst some families understandably find it difficult to deal with a diagnosis of dementia, this practical step can be reassuring to all involved.
Depending on how far dementia has progressed and how severe it is, an individual may no longer be deemed to have the capacity and might, therefore, not be able to elect their own attorney. In this instance, it will be necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection, which will be able to appoint a deputy. This process can take some weeks, however, which can mean a time lag during which financial decisions cannot be made by family members.
More information on Dementia Action Week can be found here, including lots of useful resources for both those facing dementia and their families.