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A key message of this weeks “Dementia Awareness Week”, run by the Alzheimer’s Society. In recent times there have been a number of high profile cases of dementia in the news, perhaps most notably Sir Terry Pratchett, who campaigned to change the way that dementia is viewed following his own diagnosis of “posterior cortical atrophy”, a rare form of the disease.

However, the stigma of dementia still lives on in everyday life. Those in the early stages of dementia often refuse to speak to their doctor about their symptoms, terrified of having their worst fears confirmed. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, those living with dementia may face a constant struggle to have their views heard, and avoid being sidelined- often by those closest to them who want nothing more than to help. A person living with dementia may be perfectly capable of making their own decisions for many years, but “dementia” is still a label that can lead many to make an assumption that the person is incapable, without even trying to involve them in decisions.

There is no doubt that dementia can have a huge impact on both the person diagnosed with the disease, and their families. However, the principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (“the Act”) were enacted to ensure that the rights of those living with dementia (and other incapacitating conditions) are protected. The Act establishes a presumption of capacity, and clearly states that individuals must be supported to make as many of their own decisions as they can, for as long as they can. Although this may not be the easiest course of action for those caring for the person with dementia, it is imperative to ensure that the person’s views are respected for as long as they are able to express them.

It cannot be stressed enough that every one of us should prepare Lasting Powers of Attorney, to ensure that our wishes are carried out in the event that we become incapable- whether that is as a result of dementia or otherwise. The preparation of Lasting Powers of Attorney is a key part of retaining some control over our affairs, allowing us to choose an appropriate attorney and give guidance or place restrictions on what our attorneys can do. It is no longer acceptable to assume it will never happen to you- dementia affects hundreds of thousands of people in the UK alone. As with so many things, nobody expects it to happen to them – until it happens to them.

If a loved one has the onset of Dementia, I recommend putting a Power of Attorney into place, however depending upon the stage of Dementia this is not always possible and in this case an application to the Court of Protection would have to be made which sends a request to the court to appoint a ‘Deputy’ to look after that persons property and financial affairs.

Gorvins are one of the only firms in the North West to have all it’s staff members trained as Dementia Friends. We are very proud to specialise in Mental Capacity and it is our aim to make people aware of how to plan their lives if they are living with Dementia. For support, guidance or just a chat about Lasting Powers of Attorney or Court of Protection, please contact me on 0161 930 5117.