Dealing with dementia
Dementia has now overtaken cancer as the UK's most feared illness for those aged 55 and over1. The total number of people with dementia in the UK is forecast to increase 38 per cent by 20372. So what will this mean for advisers who provide advice to families with a relative living with dementia?
There will inevitably be a number of financial and legal issues to deal with following diagnosis of dementia. It's hugely reassuring for the entire family and the person concerned to know that this has been taken care of.
The symptoms of dementia - memory loss, language difficulties, poor judgement, failure to recognise people and disorientation - all make the person with the condition extremely vulnerable. Unsurprisingly, families will often default to thinking about care homes as the obvious next step.
However, research shows that 97 per cent3 of older people don't want to move into residential care, with what is often an institutional and regimented way of life.
This sentiment is now regularly acknowledged and often cited in people's 'living wills' but, where a lasting power of attorney (LPA) has been granted and families are charged with making decisions on welfare and medical treatment, they may feel at a complete loss. They want their loved one to stay at home but believe the only realistic route is a residential or nursing home.
Families should therefore know that there is a real alternative; one that's particularly appropriate for those with dementia.
Previously little-known but actually long-established, 24/7 live-in homecare is becoming an increasingly popular choice. It is well documented that, for those with dementia, maintaining familiarity of surroundings and routine is highly beneficial. And with a carer on hand 24 hours-a-day, the level of personalised, one-to-one attention is significantly greater than it would be in a care home, which again, is so important with dementia.
Live-in care enables greater quality of life and allows clients to retain a greater sense of dignity and independence. Cost can be comparable with a good care home and be significantly less where couples are being cared for together.
Depending on a family's situation, if they are far away for example, the solicitor or other adviser may hold power of attorney and be invaluable in managing the client's affairs. In this instance and where clients have dementia, the live-in care company (and the carers themselves) can play a particularly useful role.
They can alert the adviser to any important or worrying issues ranging from changes in behaviour or care needs, to being vigilant about potential risks to their vulnerabilities. These could include scams, unwanted cold calls or unscrupulous tradespeople.
Finally, because families tend to seek help later and later these days, carers find they are dealing with more advanced cases that require a higher level of expertise. All Live-in Homecare Information Hub members are deeply committed to dementia training, enabling optimum person-centred care.
A nationally representative survey of adults was commissioned by The Live-In Homecare Information Hub via market research specialist Census wide during January 2015. 1,040 over 16 year olds were surveyed.
Alzheimer's Society 'Dementia UK' report 2014.
Poll conducted by One Poll on behalf of Consultus Care in 2014. Figures released in 2015.
For solicitors, accountants, independent financial advisers, and families, the Hub's website has a wealth of information on all aspects of live-in care.
Freddy Gathorne-Hardy is managing director of Christie's Care and a founding member of The Live-in Homecare Information Hub