Watching the marking of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landing I was moved (like many people I expect) by the stories of heroism. I was struck by the account of a naval cook from Bradford who spent day after day cooking meals for the troops, not leaving the galley although he knew the ship was visible and vulnerable to torpedoes. There were the airborne troops landing behind enemy lines to take control of a bridge and those running up the beaches under gunfire.
One thing that I learned watching the coverage was that the people involved in the Normandy landings knew that this operation had been the result of careful planning over many months, in fact nearly 12 months: the plans had been drawn up in anticipation of the crisis.
The veterans are now in their 80s and even 90s. Many of them are now facing different battles with declining health.
I have always had a professional interest in supporting and advising elderly clients and particularly those with dementia. Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 1 in 6 people over 80 have dementia. For over 65’s the incidence of dementia is still as high as 1 in 14.
Our local Wakefield Alzheimer’s Society branch is very active. Amongst the many forms of support they offer are education classes for those with dementia and their relatives. Over many years I have been privileged to talk to these groups about planning for the future. A diagnosis of dementia can be incredibly frightening: my experience is that taking active steps to plan for the future helps to give back some control, rather than waiting for a crisis to occur. So what can you do in the face of this crisis?
Many people are greatly helped by having a valid and up-to-date will. What is less common knowledge is that it is essential for someone in the early stages of Alzheimer or Dementia to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
A Lasting Power of Attorney enables you to give authority to one or more relatives or friends to make decisions on your behalf. By making an LPA you choose who will make decisions on your behalf if you become incapable of making decisions in the future due to ill health.
There are two types of LPA; Financial (allowing your attorney to deal with your property and finances) and Health and Welfare (allowing your attorney to make health and welfare decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to do so).
LPAs allow you to give directions to your attorney, ensuring that your wishes are respected in circumstance where you no longer have the capacity to make decisions for yourself.
Loss of physical and mental capacity inevitably constitutes a crisis. It can be a desperately hard time for your family as well as for you. Making a lasting power of attorney is part of planning for that crisis and limiting, so far as you can, its effects. My advice? Don’t wait for the crisis!