1 Alzheimers and dementia

Experts in the field are increasingly saying that, whilst being a life changing and worrying event, the onset of dementia is a condition that can respond to sensitive and skilled interaction by those close to the person affected.

Dementia Friends is such a movement ( )

Alzheimers has been compared to a bookcase: The mind can store its memories on different book shelves.

The bottom bookshelves are in reasonable order, in an affected person, and its oldest and firmest memories are located there, within more easy reach.

The top shelves are less well organised and can become muddled and disordered. Retrieving data from those shleves becomes problematic and confusing.

New research indicates that the way of interqacting with those affected is important. If the patient, for want of a better description, believes that a relative or friend has died, (and she hasn't), it is disturbing for them them to be informed that this isn't so. Better to reinforce those mental connections which are older, stronger and firmer.

It is clear that someone with these conditions may find making a will or power of attorney more challenging and in those circumstances it may be necessary to obtain a medical report into their condition. If for example, despite their condition they have a broad understanding of what they want to achieve, they may be clear to proceed.

Setting up a will in those circumstances may require sensitivity and skill.

For patients with early onset of dementia, a Lasting Power of Attorney may be achievable.

2 Lasting Powers of Attorney

LPAs as they are commonly called, are executed to provide someone with a support backup, both for financial and personal issues. They are easy to set up and can be signed when the Donor (as it is called) is perfectly normal and mentally capable. They then can remain unused until called for, or cancelled if the Donor, still mentally capable, decides it is 'not for them.'

However if the Donor becomes mentally challenged, or indeed physically challenged, they are a timely and useful tool in assisting the management of the Donor's affairs and, importantly, less trouble than having to make an application to the Court of Protection.

3 The Court of Protection

If an LPA has not been set up in advance, then if mental capacity becomes sufficently impaired it may not be possible to create an LPA. In such cases, an application to the Court of Protection is required. A certificate from a medical practitioner that mental capacity has become insuffficient to manage the patient's affairs will be required.