What is dementia?
Dementia is caused by a number of diseases that affect the brain. The most common is Alzheimer’s.
Most people associate memory loss with dementia and this is one of the symptoms. Other common symptoms of dementia include changes in mood or behaviour, misplacing things and disorientation to time and place. Different types of dementia affect the brain at different rates and in different ways. Dementia can affect every aspect of a person’s life including dealing with their own property and finances.
Why does dementia matter?
Dementia is one of the greatest challenges faced by society today. One in three people will develop dementia in their lifetime and one in nine people will have caring responsibilities for someone with dementia.
Whilst dementia typically affects people over 65, younger people can get dementia too.
There are currently over 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia. 225,000 people will develop dementia this year – that’s one person every three minutes.
It’s clear from the figures that dementia is a challenge which we have to face; it is not going away.
Planning for the future
Managing day to day money can be difficult for someone living with dementia. For example, a person living with dementia might forget to pay their phone bill or renew their house insurance. Imagine living with dementia and trying to deal with a bank, insurance company or utility company. Without support or understanding from the provider you are in contact with, this can often be upsetting.
Mental capacity is the ability to make decisions. As dementia progresses, the person living with the condition is likely to become unable to make some decisions for themselves.
If a person lacks the mental capacity to make their own decisions then the Mental Capacity Act 2005 is the law in England and Wales that supports these people and outlines who can and should make decisions on that person’s behalf.
If a person is no longer able to make their own decisions, and has not made a Power of Attorney, then an application should be made to the Court of Protection for the appointment of a Deputy.
A Deputy is a person appointed by the Court to manage the affairs of someone who lacks the capacity to manage their own affairs. A Deputy can be a relative or friend of the person who lacks capacity. In some circumstances, it may be appropriate to have a Professional Deputy, for example a solicitor.
How can we help?
It’s clear that there is a lot to think about when supporting a person with dementia who lacks the mental capacity to make their own decisions or might lack capacity in the future to make their own decisions.
Our specialist Court of Protection team has a wealth of experience in supporting individuals who lack capacity and their families either through assisting a lay deputy in making an application to the Court of Protection or in representing the individual as a professional deputy.
If you have any queries or questions about how to support someone to make their own decisions then please contact our Court of Protection team by email on email@example.com.