As dementia cases in the UK are set to rise to over a million by 2021, research into the disease is high on the Government’s agenda making lifetime planning critical.
The progressive illness, which changes the chemistry and structure of the brain, currently affects 800,000 people in the UK and their families raising serious concerns evident by David Cameron’s recent pledge to more than double research funding by 2015.
Andrew Cusworth, Court of Protection partner at Linder Myers in Manchester said: “This is a very sad illness and one that I have experience of within my own family. There is currently little known about it so it is vital that the over 50’s, particularly women who make up two thirds of sufferers, go to see their GP as soon as they think that they are showing the early signs of the disease.”
“We see a lot of clients seeking advice on setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney when it’s too late. Once the condition has a hold of an individual they have lost the mental capacity to make these crucial decisions so we are unable to advise them at this stage.”
“It is a shocking statistic that only 40% of people with dementia in the UK actually receive a diagnosis. People don’t think twice about having insurance for their home or car so having an LPA in place as insurance to ease the strain on the sufferer and their families should be no different.”
As dementia sets in, an individual’s assets are frozen for their own protection. An LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) allows a healthy individual to nominate a trusted individual(s) to manage their affairs should they lose the mental capacity to do so for themselves. This can be as simple as accessing finances to pay for day to day items such as groceries.
If an individual has not made a Lasting Power of Attorney in advance and they do then lose capacity to make financial decisions for themselves, the only other course of action is to apply to the Court of Protection to appoint another person to act as Deputy on that person’s behalf.
Early signs of dementia include mood swings, increased forgetfulness and difficulties with communicating and carrying out everyday activities such as confusion with change when purchasing groceries.