Planning for an uncertain future

‘Still Alice’ is a 2014 film about Alice Howland, happily married with three grown-up children.  Alice is a renowned linguistics professor, a specialist in the use of language who tragically and ironically starts to forget words.  Alice receives a devastating diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.  It is fictional, based on Lisa Genova’s 2007 bestselling novel of the same name, but it is a very realistic portrayal of the gradual effects of Alzheimer’s.  Julianne Moore has just won an Oscar for the role of Alice, which she dedicated to those who suffer from this awful, incurable, disease.

Alzheimer’s is one of the conditions that cause dementia, the other main one being a stroke.  All types of dementia are progressive, which means that the symptoms gradually get worse.  By 2015 there will be 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and within 10 years there will be a million.  Incidence increases with age as the proportion of people with dementia doubles for every five-year age group.  It affects one in six people aged 80 or over.  However there are 40,000 younger people with dementia in the UK.

It is therefore sensible for all of us to consider the possibility, particularly as we get older or start to plan for old age.  None of us can yet prevent something like dementia happening to us or someone we love, but putting the right paperwork in place can make a very difficult time a little bit easier and give those who care the legal rights to look after you and make the best decisions for you.

A Lasting Power of Attorney is very useful if and when life becomes a struggle because of dementia.  By then it may be too late to put it in place, as to make a Lasting Power of Attorney a person has to have ‘legal capacity’ i.e. has to understand why they are making a Lasting Power of Attorney and what effect it will have.    If that time has already passed then an application can be made to the Court of Protection to act and make decisions on behalf of the individual concerned, but having a Lasting Power of Attorney already in place is much simpler and cheaper for all concerned.

None of us want to contemplate losing our minds, to any extent.  But the best we can do is to face the possibility and gain what peace of mind we can for ourselves and our loved ones.  Our Retirement Planning Service will help you ensure that your paperwork is in place, your house is in order and you can face the future with as much control and optimism as possible.

Frances Barker, Partner