I’ve had a Dementia diagnosis, what should I do?
Alzheimer’s Research UK estimates that 944,000 people are living with dementia in the UK, with one in six people aged 80 and over at risk of developing dementia. It’s therefore likely that we’ll be affected by dementia, either directly or via a family member at some point in our lifetime.
A dementia diagnosis can be devastating for a family, and understandably it takes time to fully digest the implications it brings. However, there are a few things that should be considered as soon as possible by the person receiving the diagnosis:
• Your papers – ensure all of your financial papers are in order and that your family know where everything is. List all of your assets and the relevant account or reference numbers and leave this with someone you trust.
• Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) – you should put in place LPAs. LPAs are documents which allow you to give authority to people you trust to make decisions for you if you become unable to take decisions for yourself.
There are two types of LPA. One deals with financial decision making, ranging from small day to day decisions which you may find difficult to manage such as organising insurance, utilities, direct debits etc to major more complex decisions such as selling your house, organising payment for your care if needed. The other deals with health and welfare decision making such as your as your daily routine (washing, dressing, eating), moving into a care home and life-sustaining medical treatment.
• Will – if you have not made a will, you ought to do that now. If you have made a will, read it, and ensure it still reflects your wishes.
• Asset protection – you might need to move assets into or out of the joint names of you and your spouse, civil partner, or partner. This will depend on the assets you hold, how you hold them and the other planning you are putting in place.
• Advance Decisions – consider whether you would like to put in place a statement confirming the medical and healthcare treatment you would like to refuse in the future if you lose the capacity to make that decision. For example, you might say that you refuse being fed food or water through a tube even if this leads to your death. You should take care that an Advance Decision does not conflict with your health and welfare LPA.
• Talk to your family – communicating what you have done and what you would like your family or someone you trust, to do to help you is vital. These conversations can be hard, but they ensure less distress in the future for both you and your loved ones. If they know what your wishes are, they can carry them out seamlessly, as opposed to having to make decisions with little to no guidance from you.
Seeking specialist professional advice at an early stage can help get everything in place in a timely manner and ensure you and your family, remain safe. Contacting an accredited member of SFE means you will have access to specialist advice in this area of law.
You can find a local solicitor here: https://sfe.legal/find-a-lawyer/