'Plan for the future' warning to mark dementia awareness week

A legal expert is warning that many people should be doing more to plan for future health issues.

Kathryn Harwood, head of Wills & Estate Planning at Napthens solicitors, is urging people to look at preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney, an important legal document which allows others to make decisions if an individual becomes unable to do so themselves.

The warning comes as the healthcare sector prepares to mark Dementia Awareness Week, organised by the Alzheimer’s Society and running from May 17-23.

Statistics from the Society show that there are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK including 40,000 younger people. It is expected that there will be 1 million people with dementia by 2025.

Dementia itself describes a set of symptoms ‘that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem solving or language.’

People with dementia struggle with many everyday tasks, and according to Kathryn Harwood, a good way to prepare for this is to have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) prepared. There are two types of LPA, dealing with property and finance, and health and welfare.

Kathryn said: “Recent figures showed that only 20 per cent of LPAs registered related to health and welfare, which suggests there is a lack of understanding of how important these can be.

“As the population ages, and more people develop conditions like dementia, there is an increasing need to begin preparing for every eventuality. “Health and welfare LPAs allow the appointment of a trusted individual to make decisions on important topics including where to live – home or a nursing home – and medical treatment including refusing particular types of treatment.”