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There are over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this is set to rise to over 1 million in the next 3 years. Dementia can affect people at any age but is more commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 65. There is no cure for dementia and a diagnosis can be extremely difficult for families to cope with. Families are likely to have many questions and concerns over what the next few years will hold and it can be very difficult to manage the changing behaviour of a parent, partner or relative who has been diagnosed with a form of dementia.

 

The good news is that there is lots of support for people coping with dementia and their families who are also affected.

 

Aside from the practical day-to-day care and living arrangements, it is important to consider the legal and financial aspects of protecting someone you love who is living with a progressive brain condition too.

 

Mental Capacity

Depending on the severity and stage of dementia it is important to discuss whether your loved one has the capacity to make certain decisions (such as legal arrangements and decisions about their property, finance or medical treatment). If their legal affairs are not quite in order, do they still have capacity to put things in place? It is better to sort these issues out as early as possible. If capacity is already lost you can apply to the Court of Protection to become someone’s deputy to make one-off decisions on their behalf.

 

Lasting Power of Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a beneficial consideration for anyone but even more so for someone who has been diagnosed with dementia. It allows you to plan in advance who you would entrust to make decisions for you when the time comes that you are no longer able to.

 

There are two different types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). One that covers financial and property affairs (for example managing bank accounts, managing pensions and benefits, selling property etc.) and one that covers decisions about health and welfare (for example living arrangements, medical treatments and day-to-day personal care). Depending on your family circumstances one or both may be beneficial.

 

Making A Will

As with a Lasting Power of Attorney, if the person suffering from dementia did not already have a will in place, this is worth looking at sooner rather than later whilst they are still deemed to have mental capacity to make important legal decisions. If they already made a will it might be worth checking this is valid, up to date and stored securely. A will is a means of making provisions for loved ones, stating their wishes and minimising Inheritance Tax. If your family member has already lost mental capacity, you are able to apply to the Court of Protection to make a Statutory Will or you can revert to Intestacy Rules where the estate will be administered according to the government.

 

At Lamb Brooks we regularly work with clients that are suffering from dementia or with the families of those diagnosed. Our team have dementia friendly training and are STEP qualified, meaning they have the sensitive skill set to deal with elderly or vulnerable clients in a responsible and patient manner.

 

We understand how difficult the adjustment can be to take care of or visit someone who has Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia or any other form of this condition.

Here are some top tips for communicating with someone suffering from dementia during this emotional time:

 

  • Sit close to the person, ideally at their level. Ensure they are able to see you clearly, lip read and in a quiet space without distractions so that you have their full attention.

 

  • People can struggle to interpret conversations, ensure that your body language is relaxed and that you make eye contact. Although it is difficult try to be aware of your facial expressions, looking sad or annoyed might be confusing.

 

  • Understand that people will have good and bad days. Try not to be put off by a bad visit.

 

  • Work out what is the best time of day to get the most out of them. It may be that they are more alert in the morning, or after a meal.

 

  • Think about topics to discuss and have some things to talk about before you arrive.

 

  • Try not to become frustrated – telling someone that you have already told them something before or asking if they remember certain things can be very upsetting.

 

  • Avoid pressing an issue, if you are not getting anywhere move on and try again later.

 

  • Speak clearly, slowly and calmly. Try not to complicate your language, use short simple sentences and leave long pauses for them to digest the words.

 

  • Try not to ask too many questions or ask multiple questions at once – this can be bombarding and stressful. People with dementia can become frustrated or withdrawn if they can’t find the answer. Stick to simple yes or no questions, or try to give a couple of simple options. For example ‘would you like a tea or coffee?’ rather than ‘what would you like to drink?’ or ‘shall we go for a short walk?’ opposed to ‘what would you like to do today?’

 

  • Don’t speak as if the person isn’t there or like they are a child.

 

  • Be patient and show respect. Be prepared to repeat yourself.

 

  • Use visual aids such as photographs, this may help prompt their memory when talking about people or places.

 

  • Listen carefully, offer encouragement.

 

  • Pay attention to their facial expressions and body language. Often people with dementia have difficulty expressing themselves in words, but their mannerisms can give away how they are feeling.

 

  • Use physical contact – holding a hand or rubbing a shoulder can provide reassurance

 

 

If you are concerned about a family history of dementia and want to get your legal affairs in order, or wish to assist someone you love with who is suffering then please get in touch with our Private Client Team today, who will be happy to help guide you.

 

Our office in Basingstoke is always welcoming and we are happy to meet for an initial consultation over a coffee to talk you through your options and put together a plan of action for you to consider.

 

Call us on 01256 844888 or email enquiries@lambbrooks.com

 

 

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.