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Since the turn of the century numerous ex-footballers have been diagnosed with dementia, which has led many to call for an investigation from the world governing body FIFA. Last week it was reported that former England striker Frank Worthington has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease according to his daughter, although this has been denied by Mr Worthington himself who says he has issues with ‘short term memory impairment’.

The trend is there to see, however. Three of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – Martin Peters, Nobby Stiles and Ray Wilson. This comes after former England striker Jeff Astle died in 2002 at the age of 59, which was attributed as an impact of his former playing days. He was killed by chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is a condition normally seen in boxers.

A campaign was started in 2014 called Justice for Jeff which has pushed for research to be done. The striker’s daughter Miss Astle has said that she knows of about 250 former players who have or are suffering with degenerative brain disease.

Now, the Football Association (FA) want FIFA to investigate whether such brain degenerative diseases have been caused from playing the game and in particular from heading heavy leather balls. The FA’s chief medical doctor, Dr Ian Beasley, wants research to be done to see if dementia is more common amongst ex-professionals footballers. There are a few areas in particular that Dr Beasley wants researchers to assess to see if the severity of brain damage differs: what position the individual played, how many games they played and at which level.

What to do if you may be at risk?

The best thing to do if you think you may be at risk is to plan ahead. Suffering from any disease is extremely tough, but suffering from a degenerative brain disease is heart-breaking for all involved. It’s hard to predict when dementia will strike, but the symptoms are often small to start with in the early stages before they develop and impact a person’s day-to-day life.

Planning ahead and acting before any type of condition sets is can make things a whole lot easier for your family to manage. It will be very difficult to see a loved one develop an illness such as Alzheimer’s disease, but by putting a few things into place whilst you have full mental capacity, the stress can be heavily reduced for the family allowing them to smoothly take over financial and welfare affairs.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) document enables you to choose individuals to look after your affairs on your behalf when you are no longer able to. If you make a Property and Financial Affairs LPA, the nominated person, your attorney, will be in charge of operating bank accounts, paying bills, collecting income, paying your mortgage and all other financial aspects.

Another choice is to make a Health and Welfare LPA which gives your attorney the power to make decisions on where you live, your day-to-day care, medical matters and other community care services. When choosing an attorney, you have to make sure you trust this person implicitly to make decisions in your best interests.

Making a Lasting Power of Attorney now whilst you still have all of your cognitive abilities is a lot cheaper than your family going through the process once you or a loved one have been diagnosed as it then has to go through the Court of Protection.

At Gorvins we offer our expertise to help you make important legal documents such as an LPA, a Will and setting up trusts. To speak to me or another specialist solicitor in this field, call us on 0343 507 5151 or email actonit@gorvins.com.