The United Kingdom’s population is getting older and living longer. According to the Alzheimer Society the chances of developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of Dementia increase greatly with age.
It’s estimated that 6 per cent of over 65s and 20 per cent of over 80s have Alzheimer’s disease, says the Alzheimer Society. The main risk factor is age, however, people in their 50s may suffer from early onset of Dementia too.
Individuals affected by this progressive, degenerative disease of the brain require a high level of care over a long period of time. From the time symptoms first appear, the course of the disease averages eight years but has been known to last as long as 25 years.
Early symptoms include short-term memory loss, personality changes, disorientation, problems with speech and the ability to make decisions. As the disease progresses, the symptoms intensify, and sufferers must receive around-the-clock care.
For families of Alzheimer’s disease sufferers, this means a high level of financial as well as emotional and physical commitment.
Have you been caring for your elderly parents or grandparents? Are you paying their bills, taking them to the doctor, managing their prescriptions?
If your parents still have legal capacity, you may want to encourage them to create a Power of Attorney. A power of attorney gives someone the authority to manage someone else’s financial matters.
But please, don’t delay, because if your parents lose the capacity to create legal documents, they will not be able to make a power of attorney.
Sometimes we see families when it is too late to create a power of attorney. This may be because the parents were not willing to discuss financial matters with the children, or because the children did not realize how much care their parents required. Once your parents cannot make a power of attorney, your options are limited.
A power of attorney enables an individual or “Donor” to designate a person to manage their finances, property and affairs in the event they become mentally incapacitated.
Powers of attorney can be immediate or springing. Immediate powers of attorney begin as soon as the document is signed. Springing powers of attorney go into effect when the person becomes incapacitated.
Several safeguards are provided within the Power of Attorney Act 1971.
There must be a statement by a doctor that the “Donor” had the mental capacity at the time the document was executed to understand the effect of creating such a power. A statement is also required from the solicitor drawing up the document saying that the document was not executed as a result of fraud or undue influence.
One of the best aspects of creating a Power of Attorney for the “Donor” is that it allows them to make personal care decisions for themselves before they become mentally incapable.
A Power of Attorney may only be set up while a person is mentally competent. Therefore, early diagnosis of dementia is vitally important.
So caregivers, it may be time to help your parents get powers of attorney.
A power of attorney provides peace of mind and protection for our elderly.