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Dementia is in the media spotlight this week as part of Dementia Awareness Week. With around 800,000 people currently living with dementia in the UK, it is easy to see why it is so important that we improve understanding of a condition that can have a profound impact on the lives of not only the person with dementia, but also their friends and family.

Dementia is a term which describes a group of symptoms, however these symptoms can be caused by a variety of diseases (Alzheimer’s being just one example). Just as dementia can have many different causes, each person’s experience of living with dementia is different. Some may have only mild symptoms and still be capable of doing many things for themselves for years, whereas others may decline rapidly and require round the clock care within a relatively short time.

The classic symptom that everyone associates with dementia is memory loss, but dementia goes much further than this. It can take away a person’s personality, and leave family and friends feeling that they have lost the person they loved. It can also cause the person living with dementia to become withdrawn, confused, and scared, as previously familiar people become strangers and places they have known for many years become fraught with obstacles.

Dementia can also leave a person incapable of managing paperwork, or dealing with their own finances. Sadly, people with dementia are often extremely vulnerable to financial abuse, as they can lose the ability to differentiate between friends and strangers and become targets for unscrupulous individuals looking to make a quick buck.

Although nothing can lessen the emotional upheaval which ensues when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, planning ahead is key to ensure that family members can deal with the practical side of things as quickly and painlessly as possible. This is done by putting Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, giving you peace of mind that if dementia ever becomes part of your life, your affairs are in order, and your finances will be looked after by people you trust.