In October a new BBC two-part documentary ‘Dementia & Us’ aired. The documentary spends two years following the lives of four people of different ages who are all living with dementia. Currently, around 850,000 people in the UK have dementia, a statistic projected to rise to 1.6 million people by 2040.
The programme gives us a moving insight into the emotional ups and downs of living with dementia. Each of the individuals featured are shown in their own ways to be incredibly resilient and inspiring overall. We are shown that a dementia diagnosis need not overshadow quality of life.
The documentary illustrates how those living with dementia can understandably feel frustration at a loss of independence, to varying degrees, as well as how the condition of dementia (being an umbrella term for many different forms) can affect each of us differently. A 61 year old lady with Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA) dementia is unable to find the slot on a cash machine to withdraw cash, whilst Clover a 90 year old lady worryingly places an electric kettle on a lit gas stove.
In all four cases, the person’s increasing need for care impacts heavily on their friends and family. A concerned wife wrestles with the idea of her husband moving into care, or accepting some degree of external support. By the end of the documentary, however, we see the relief which is offered by a local dementia respite care home which takes care of her husband for one week each month, allowing her to then prioritise her own care, too.
The documentary highlights that in some instances a dementia diagnosis can be navigated innovatively. One lady is shown colour co-ordinating the various rooms in her home, helping her to move about it more independently and work with her spatial awareness issues.
What we do see keenly is that being sensitive to the possibility of dementia and/or noticing the early signs of the condition presents an opportunity for planning for the future.
If you or someone in your family is living with dementia, our leading Private Client and Court of Protection teams are well placed to help with your future planning when it comes to such matters as preparing Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) for health and financial decisions; estate planning; preparing a will and considering deputyships.
Addressing a possible dementia diagnosis and the ways in which it might impact upon a person’s capacity to make decisions can be daunting, but planning ahead can also assert some control – you make clear your well-considered choices.
Our Court of Protection team can advise attorneys under LPAs (and deputies under deputyship orders) about their responsibilities when they begin to act for someone who needs that support. Our firm’s trust corporation can also be appointed to act as a professional attorney or deputy, supporting individuals in managing their affairs. This often involves making sure funds are available for care, whether in a care home or in the person’s own home; ensuring that the right financial support is in place (such as from the local authority) to help with the cost of care, and working with family, friends and other professionals in the person’s best interests.
We encourage thinking carefully about your arrangements for the future, and who you might want to rely upon if, for any reason, you or a loved one might not be able to make certain decisions yourself. Is a proposed attorney reliable in their approach and supportive of you; can they be trusted to prioritise your best interests? These are some of the points, plus others, that should be considered when thinking about LPAs and who you might want to have appointed as an attorney for you. We can also advise on the role of the Court of Protection and the appointment of a deputy if someone has not created an LPA and has reached a stage where they no longer have capacity to do so, but it is necessary for someone to act on their behalf. These can be significant decisions to work through, but we trust reassurance and peace of mind can also be the end result once the task is complete.