1 In 6 Elderly People Thought To Be Living With From Dementia Or Alzheimer’s
For World Alzheimer’s Day today (21 September), elderly and vulnerable experts at Irwin Mitchell have outlined some top tips on what to do when your loved one has Alzheimer’s.
World Alzheimer’s Day is an important awareness day designed to get people talking about the signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s, and to highlight the issues those living with the disease face in their everyday lives.
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia where problems with day-to-day memory are often the first thing to be noticed, but other symptoms may include difficulties finding the right words, solving problems, making decisions or perceiving things in three dimensions.
There are 850,000 people currently living with dementia in the UK; this figure is expected to rise to 1.6m by 2040. As the UK’s demographic shifts towards an elderly population, families will increasingly face their loved ones being affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Crucially the cost of care for people with dementia is projected to almost triple by 2040, increasing from £15.7bn to £45.4bn. The recently announced social care reforms plan on injecting much-needed cash into the system from 2023.
Irwin Mitchell’s specialists have some advice on what the first steps should be to protect someone with Alzheimer’s should they develop the illness.
Expert Opinion“The implications of a dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis entirely depend on the circumstances of the person and how their illness progresses. It’s important to consider all of the options available to you and your loved ones should mental capacity decline.
“If your loved one still has mental capacity, make sure a Will is drafted or up to date. A properly drafted Will can be a great tool for inheritance tax planning and leaving assets to loved ones. Meeting with a financial adviser as well will further help the process along, especially when it comes to care home fees.
“Another important step is getting a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place. There’s one for health and welfare, and another for financial affairs. Having these in place with a trusted family member or friend means they can look after the important decisions should someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s lose capacity.
“An LPA should be made as quickly as possible and a medical opinion could be needed, depending on how advanced the Alzheimer’s is. The instructions must come from the person themselves – they have to want to make the LPA - but if it is their wish to do so and their capacity allows. Without capacity the only option is the Court of Protection, which can be costly and take far longer.
“Getting these crucial things done will take some of the stress away for your family should a loved one develop Alzheimer’s. If you’re not sure about what to do, you can speak to a legal professional.” Helen Webster - Solicitor
Aside from the legal practicalities of making sure a loved one is properly cared for, there’s also the quality of life to consider – but there are many options available for support.
Helen added: “An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be really hard for someone to process. You can assist by looking at support groups for both them and yourself. There are lots of resources available for people with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones to make sure they still have plenty of social interaction and support.
“Another practical rather than legal step you may take, as the person’s loved one, is to attend a Dementia Friends session or approach one of the dementia support services to try and learn a little bit more about the condition.
“This knowledge can be invaluable in helping you navigate what can be an extremely difficult time together, but to try and help them, and you, live life in as fulfilling a way as possible while you can."
Irwin Mitchell’s upcoming Growing Old Gracefully: Later Life Planning virtual conference will be running a Dementia Friends training session alongside a host of other discussions including the recent social care reforms announcement, mental capacity and much more. You can sign up to the event here.