Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s brings with it a number of practical considerations. Amy Quinn, Dementia Friend and solicitor in Coodes Solicitors’ Wills, Probate and Trusts team, shares her thoughts on World Alzheimer’s Day.
Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, or any form of dementia, is often a huge shock. Along with the emotional impact of the diagnosis, you are likely to have practical issues to consider and put in place.
Everyone’s situation is different, but here are some of the most important practical considerations following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis:
Dementia is an umbrella term for a number of different conditions. Alzheimer’s is the most common, but there are others such as vascular dementia and dementia with lewy bodies. Knowing which form of dementia you have will help you understand more about how it might progress and what effects it is likely to have. For example, Alzheimer’s tends to progress quite steadily while other forms of dementia can result in more sudden changes. Ensure you get as much information as possible from your doctor or a dementia charity and be aware that these are complex illnesses that can affect people in different ways.
If you are concerned that you may have dementia but have not yet had a diagnosis, the charity Dementia UK has some useful information here.
Fortunately there are now a number of good support services out there for people with dementia. There may be a group or Memory Café in your local area, while some people benefit from joining a befriending service. If you are a family member or friend caring for someone with dementia there are also support services on offer for carers. If you or your family have questions about any aspect of living with your condition you can contact the Alzheimer’s Society national dementia helpline on 0300 222 11 22 or the Dementia UK helpline on 0800 888 6678.
Many people with Alzheimer’s can live independently for a long time. However, it is vital to plan for the future and consider what you would want to happen should you, one day, become unable to make important decisions. Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) will help ensure your wishes are followed. With an LPA, you can nominate one or more people to act on your behalf if you lose capacity in the future.
As we’ve explained in a previous blog, there are two types of LPA. A Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare, focuses on everything from where you live to the medical care you would receive. A Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs allows someone else to act on your behalf in relation to your property and finances. This includes your banking, your pension, paying your bills and may even include selling your home if this is required.
While growing numbers of people are setting up LPAs for Property and Financial Affairs, take up of Health and Welfare LPAs remains very low. If you have had a diagnosis of dementia, it is important to understand what difference a Health and Welfare LPA could make. Coodes Partner Louise Southwell explains more about this here.
Telling your family and close friends about your diagnosis is important because they can then offer help and support when you need it. For example, it can be useful to have someone who can help you find out about any financial benefits you may be entitled to.
If your loved ones want to learn more about how they can help you access support, they may find some useful information on the Alzheimer’s Society website.
Having a Will is vitally important but many people fail to update it at key moments in their life. Having a diagnosis of dementia is an important time to check and ensure everything is in order. Ask around local law firms for a solicitor who is a Dementia Friend so you can get the best advice from someone who understands your situation.