Preparation brings peace of mind to those with dementia and their loved ones
Around 40 per cent of the UK population are affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s – whether that be personally or by having a close friend or family member live with the condition.
Yet while there is no cure for the debilitating condition, Lianne Lodge of leading legal, financial and property specialists Pagan Osborne says that by being properly prepared those affected could be offering their families a lifeline at a difficult time.
As Alzheimer’s Scotland’s Dementia Awareness Week is underway (18-24 June), Lianne thinks this is an ideal time for people to learn more about the condition and what they can do to ensure themselves and their families and protected legally and financially into the future.
Lianne, who heads up Pagan Osborne’s lateryears service, said: “I understand it must feel scary to think that one day you might not be in a position to control your own affairs. However, for a growing percentage of the elderly population this may well become the case. Rather than put making any decisions off until ‘tomorrow’, I would urge people to think now about what they can do to protect their affairs.
“When people are diagnosed with dementia then this is a key time when they need to think about the future with their loved ones and it is often helpful that doctors can be in a position to advise people on the sort of advice they should be seeking out with their health requirements. At this point, you can decide how you want your affairs managed and by whom; saving much heartache, deliberation and difficulties for your loved ones at a later stage.”
Kirsty Jardine, awareness manager at Alzheimer Scotland, said: ““Alzheimer Scotland believes that it is vital for anyone who has received a diagnosis of dementia to receive appropriate post-diagnostic support, including information and advice on big decisions about money, legal matters and future care needs. It is important for people with dementia to be empowered to make these decisions while they can, with the support of partners, relatives and informed professionals. We would encourage anyone who is affected by these issues to consider them sooner rather than later, to ensure that everyone’s needs are met in the years ahead.”
In Edinburgh, over 7400 families are affected by the condition and the Scotland-wide figure of 84,000 is expected to double within 25 years. Lianne, an associate at Pagan Osborne and member of Solicitors for the Elderly, explains the steps that can be taken: “Putting in place a Power of Attorney allows a person of your choosing, friend, family or appointed representative, to take care of all manners of matters on your behalf. This does not mean that as soon as you sign that paper you no longer have a say. It’s a very useful tool to have in place should you require it. It’s also vitally important you have an up-to-date Will and that you have considered care costs.
“Dealing with these matters means people have the peace of mind to go on and enjoy life, without the constant worry of your future legal and financial affairs.”
Over 820,000 people in the UK have dementia and it costs the UK economy £23bn – more than heart disease and cancer combined.
*Statistics from Alzheimer’s Research UK alzheimersresearchuk.org/dementia-statistics/ and Alzheimer’s Scotland dementiascotland.org.