This week, we look at new warnings about incapacity and the risks of being unprepared. There are some shocking figures here. Next week, we will look more at what the legal position is and what you can do to prepare.
The organisation, Solicitors for the Elderly, is in the news again. It says the UK is ‘sleepwalking’ towards a dementia crisis with millions failing to prepare for the loss of mental capacity. Whilst around 13 million of us over the age of 65 are at high risk of future incapacity, less than 1 million have planned ahead to ensure their wishes are followed by creating Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA). This comes against the backdrop of a sharp increase in people being diagnosed with, or at risk of, dementia and the report states that by 2025 around 13.2 million people will be at risk but only 2.2 million LPAs are expected to be in place. The study also shows that the number of people diagnosed with dementia in the UK has increased by 53.4% in just over 10 years (from 2005/6 to 2016/17). This doesn’t include those who are undiagnosed.
63% of people incorrectly believe that their spouse can make medical and care decisions on their behalf and 65% think a next of kin has the power to do so, should they no longer be able to. In fact, this is only the case if a registered H&W LPA is in place. Some 70% of people say they would like a family member to make medical and care decisions on their behalf, and only 1% would want a deputy appointed by the Court of Protection. However, the current and forecasted low number of H&W LPAs in place demonstrates a huge gap between what we want and what we will get.
You can make LPAs for financial decisions and for care and welfare choices, but as I wrote a few weeks ago, you also need to put a lot of thought in to giving directions on what you would or not want to happen, as a guide to those making decisions for you. People living with dementia should be supported to live well for longer and to make informed personal choices around care and wellbeing for as long as they are able to. When they are no longer able to, it’s important that their wishes, feelings and beliefs are specified so they can be adhered to.
You should set up LPAs whilst you have the time and the ability.