Who cares about the future?
The number of diagnosed cases of dementia has risen by 50% in the last 11 years, with that number expected to double in the next decade. However, a recent study carried out by the Centre for Future Studies, on behalf of a coalition of prominent national charities such as Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and Solicitors for the Elderly, has found that very few people are making provisions for their future care.
Everyone knows Dementia is a terrible thing, but no one ever imagines that they might one day be affected by it - so we don’t talk about it (or often even think about it). However, on the rare occasion that someone does think about the future, their primary focus is on making provisions for their financial affairs. This is because they assume that their loved ones would be able to make decisions about their medical treatment and ongoing care. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Without a Power of Attorney in place, issues such as consent to medical treatment, home vs residential care, and even day-to-day issues like diet, dress, or daily routine would be taken by medical professionals. They will usually, where appropriate, consult the family but the final decision rests with them. If the family disagrees with the decision that has been made, their only option is to make an application to the Court of Protection. This is a long and costly process at a time when family members are having to cope with their own emotional response to the situation.
Putting a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, in addition to a Property & Financial Affairs LPA, can remove this added stress. The LPA will allow you to formally appoint your chosen friend/family members as your Attorneys so they can then make decisions on your behalf in the event that you lose capacity. It also creates an opportunity for you to have that difficult conversation about what you would want to happen.
Unfortunately, the Centre for Future Studies research found that only 928,000 Health & Welfare LPA have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. This is particularly worrying as there are currently nearly 13 million people over the age of 65 in the UK at this time. The charity coalition is therefore calling for an end to what they are labelling the 'Incapacity crisis' and for greater awareness about Health & Welfare LPAs.
For more information about Health & Welfare LPAs and to start a conversation on how we can help, please contact Stella Mullane, Associate, Vulnerable People.
Published: 9 Jul 2018