Dementia Awareness Week

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Did you know that Dementia Awareness week taking place nationwide between the 19th and 25th May? This is the Alzheimer’s Society’s flagship awareness raising campaign.
 
There are all manner of different things you can do to get involved, such as throwing a tea party, or simply visiting their website, even talking about it with your family and friends will help to achieve the campaign’s primary goal of raising awareness of dementia.
 
The term dementia is used to describe a set of symptoms, including memory loss and difficulties with communicating. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s (62% of all dementia cases).
  
Did you know that there is a 1 in 3 chance of you developing dementia if you are over the age of 65?
 
It is also a little known fact that 2/3rd of people with dementia are women. I am not by any stretch of the imagination an expert on this subject but wonder if this is simply because women tend to live a lot longer than men. One of the advantages of growing old as a single or widowed man is of course your pick of the ladies at the tea-dances!
 
This subject is of particularly interest to me personally as I advise clients in making Lasting Powers of Attorney LPA). This is a document which gives some other person (your Attorney) power to manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf, should you be unable to do so yourself.
 
Unfortunately, I am frequently contacted by people whose family member has already lost capacity to make a LPA. In these circumstances, an application has to be made to the Court of Protection for a person to be appointed as a deputy to act on behalf of the person who has been incapacitated. This is both expensive (£400 court fee plus solicitors costs of anything in the region of £1,000), and time-consuming (at least 6 months). During this 6 months money would be locked into bank accounts, and any property could not be sold. The process is extremely complicated and cumbersome. The powers of the Court appointed Deputy are restricted and closely monitored.
 
This could easily have been avoided if the person had made one or more LPA’s. Once made, these can be registered immediately with the Office of the Public Guardian, in order that they can be used straight away, should the need arise. There are 2 types of LPA – Property and Affairs and Health and Personal Welfare.
 
Sadly, none of us know what is round the corner, and all too often we think it will never happen to us and delay doing things until it’s simply too late.
 
In an ideal world I would advise everyone over the age of around 40 to have a LPA in place. You can see it as a very useful insurance policy.
 
So back to talking and the Alzheimer’s Awareness week reminds me of my May day bank holiday spent travelling around the beautiful Yorkshire Dales with 2 friends. Perhaps it was the gorgeous weather which made everyone friendly but we chatted to so many lovely and interesting people. 
 
Sadly, this is a luxury not afforded to many elderly people who are house-bound and see no-one from one week to the next week. I do believe that loneliness is increasingly common-place in our society but very little is said about it. Here at Pudsey Legal, we sponsor a local charity (of which I am also a committee member) called Pudsey Live at Home. They visit elderly people and also provide various activities, including trips out. It’s a simple idea but the charity makes a huge impact upon the lives of the people who use it. I believe this is extremely relevant to the Dementia Awareness week, as I am quite sure that dementia can be helped by simply talking to people. I repeat that I am not a medical expert but surely just keeping your mind active and positive is likely to have a beneficial impact on its well-being.
 
So, I urge all of you who are reading this article to use the Dementia Awareness to talk to someone, perhaps an elderly relative or neighbour who you have not seen for some time, not just about the important issues raised in this article, but simply to connect with that person and show a genuine interest in his or her life.
 
It has always interested me that at birth we are entirely dependent upon the care of others and in our dotage we are again dependent upon the kindness of others, so perhaps in the intervening years, we could all show a little more kindness to our elders, as we will all be there one day….

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