Dementia awareness week: Coping with dementia
This week (15 – 21 May 2016) is dementia awareness week. Dementia will touch the lives of many of us as well as our friends and family. With this in mind, we will be addressing a number of different practical and legal issues surrounding the care of people with dementia and throughout the week will be adding further articles below.
5 top tips to help you manage your finances following a diagnosis of dementia
People in the early stages of dementia may begin to struggle with the day to day management of their finances. As the condition progresses it is likely to affect memory and the capacity to make financial decisions.
There are several initial steps that you can take to simplify dealing with your finances and to allow your family members to assist you.
Review which state benefits you may be entitled to
Ensure that you are receiving the maximum benefits allowable, for example Attendance Allowance. This will assist you should you require an assessment by the Local Authority regarding contributions to your care fees.
Set up direct debits and standing orders
This ensures that regular bills are paid on time, without you having to worry about them.
Replace a PIN number with a chip and signature card
If you are struggling to remember a PIN number then it may be possible to organise a chip and signature bank card, which allows you to sign for goods and services rather than entering a PIN and to withdraw cash directly from the cashier.
Give a ‘Third Party Mandate’ or set up a joint account
You could give a trusted friend or family member a ‘Third Party Mandate’ on your account or set up a joint account with them to allow them to deal with the day to day management.
Plan for the future
Both Third Party Mandates and joint accounts will cease to be effective if you lose capacity to manage your affairs.
Powers of Attorney give your chosen attorney or attorneys the legal power to assist you with your finances and to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself. It is important to set up a Power of Attorney early so that you can give your full and informed consent.
If you would like more information about managing your finances following a diagnosis of dementia, please contact Stephen Horscroft on Stephen.email@example.com or 01892 506 341.
Am I eligible for a Council tax discount?
Some people with dementia are eligible for a discount on their council tax bill. To be eligible the person must meet all of the following criteria:
- has a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning which appears to be permanent
- has a certificate confirming this impairment from a registered medical practitioner, usually the person’s GP or consultant
- is entitled to certain disability benefits – the most common qualifying benefits are Attendance allowance (lower or higher rate), Disability living allowance (higher or middle rate care components) and the new Personal independence payment (lower or higher rate of the daily living component)
For more information please see the Alzheimer’s Society website Alzheimer’s Society: Council Tax.
If you would like more information about coping with dementia, please contact Hannah Baker on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01892 506 057.
Can I access confidential medical information of someone who is suffering from dementia?
Historically, confidentiality has made it difficult for family members and carers to access confidential medical information of those suffering from dementia.
A recent review resulted in the Caldicott principles. Interestingly, these suggest that where an individual lacks capacity to decide whether confidential information about them should be shared, it may be decided that sharing this information with a carer or family member would be beneficial for their care. This is supported by the Mental Capacity code which also indicates that it may be appropriate to reveal personal information when working out a person’s best interests.
If you are having trouble accessing information from your family member or relative’s GP then you should discuss the application of the Caldicott principles with them.
Another option is for anyone making a power of attorney to give written authority to be kept with the document authorising disclosure of medical information if this is thought to be in their best interests. This is something Cripps would routinely discuss with clients when advising on Lasting Powers of Attorney.
For more information please see – Guide to confidentiality in health & social care.
What is a lasting power of attorney?
Have you been appointed as an attorney for someone close to you who is suffering from dementia? Are you considering appointing your own attorney? If the answer to either of these questions is ‘yes’, then read on to find out the many benefits of a lasting power of attorney (“LPA”).
An LPA is a legal document which allows you to appoint an attorney to make decisions for you if you become incapable of managing your own affairs. An LPA is flexible, allowing you to decide who should act on your behalf if you are unable to look after yourself. Many people appoint someone close to them, such as a spouse, friend or relative. Alternatively, you can appoint a professional attorney.
There are two types of LPA.
- Property and financial affairs LPA
This allows your attorney to handle your finances, taxes, benefits and assets.
- Personal welfare LPA
This authorises your attorney to make decisions in relation to your medical treatment and living arrangements.
Making an LPA is good planning for everyone. It can be regarded as an insurance policy against problems which may arise in the future, for example, a spell in hospital or changes in your health. It also avoids your friends and family having to make a time consuming and costly application to the Court of Protection if you lose capacity and do not have an LPA.