Face up to dementia with a power of attorney

In 15 years more people in the UK will suffer from a form of dementia than ever before, highlighting the importance of getting your financial affairs in order with a lasting power of attorney.

Alzheimer figures rising

According to figures from the Alzheimer's Society, one in three people over the age of 65 will die with dementia.

There are 750,000 people in the UK who have some form of the illness, more than half of which have Alzheimer's disease.

However, the worrying news is that by 2025, this figure will rise to one million people and by 2051 there will be 1.7 million people living with dementia.

While more people might be clued up as to how important it is to have an up-to-date will, of which those wanting to avoid solicitor's fees can get a DIY will kit through Lawpack, fewer people might be aware of other forms of financial protection.

People who might be at risk of developing dementia can write a Living Will, which lets you state what medical treatment you would not want in the future should you become too ill to communicate your wishes.

For your family, it also removes the burden of choosing what medical treatments to give without your decision.

The importance of making a lasting power of attorney

Earlier this month, the UK recognised dementia week, which gave sufferers and campaigners a platform to raise awareness about how important it is to get personal finances in order.

Ruth Sutherland, acting chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, told the Guardian newspaper: "No one wants to consider a future with dementia but planning what would happen to you if you were to lose capacity is incredibly important."

One way to ensure this is to draft a lasting power of attorney (LPA).

This is a much cheaper way of ensuring that your wishes are carried out, as the alternative is the costly Court of Protection, which could amount to thousands of pounds.

A Power of Attorney Kit from Lawpack will provide you with the tools to make an LPA Property and Financial Affairs for all of your financial decisions and planning.

It also involves an LPA Health and Welfare regarding your healthcare needs.

These legal forms will set out a nominated person, be it a spouse or a child, who will be responsible for paying household bills, collecting your pension or selling your house when the time comes.

How to reduce the risks of dementia

Financial planning for the possibility that a family member will develop dementia does not mean that it will happen.

Research into Alzheimer's is continuing and scientists are discovering new reasons why it might develop.

A research team from the UK and Finland recently discovered that people who stay in education for longer reduce their risk of developing the disease.

In a major ageing study, the researchers showed that there was an 11 per cent decline in the risk of developing dementia for each year a person stayed in education.

Other ways of reducing the risk of dementia can be through certain lifestyle changes.

Earlier this month the American Academy of Neurology reported that there is a major link between dementia and depression, while Dr Anne Corbett from the Alzheimer's Society said that people who exercise regularly have a reduced risk of dementia later on in life.

"Depression affects your lifestyle, it affects the activities you do," she explained. "So, for example, for people who are depressed, their diet changes quite dramatically in some cases and there may be a link between that and dementia."

Peter Ashley, from near Warrington, Cheshire, told The Guardian that he would like to see people tackle the issue of dementia when they write a will.

A dementia sufferer himself, he said: "It should be a fact of life, at some point, that you look to your ultimate demise and think 'I'm going to have to relieve my worldly assets, prior to that I might lose my competence and therefore need someone to help'".

Even his wife who does not have the hereditary disease has an LPA.

"Her view is that the intelligent thing to do is think about the future ... whether you have a diagnosis or not," he remarked.

Posted by Morag Lyall

Published on: July 27, 2010

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