Navigating and Preparing for Dementia Care

Navigating and Preparing for Dementia Care: Financial, Legal and Practical Advice by Edie Gould

In Loveday’s recent Later Life survey, it was revealed that a mere 24% of UK adults claim to be knowledgeable about the process of arranging care and more than a third (36%) admit they wouldn't know where to start when considering later life care.

Edie Gould, Senior Membership & Community Manager at Loveday has a vast amount of experience in helping families navigate the care system, which can sometimes be complex and challenging. Below she shares her top tips to help ease the transition when diagnosed with dementia:

As someone intrinsically involved in assisting families through the complexities of dementia care, I always stress the importance of being prepared. Over-preparing is key – having the necessary information and protocols in place, even if they're never needed, can make all the difference. It's far better to be ready for any eventuality than to be caught unprepared in the midst of a care crisis. Below are my top five tips to help facilitate a smooth transition. These proactive measures not only ensure the wellbeing of individuals living with dementia but also provide invaluable support for their caregivers and loved ones throughout their journey.


Appoint a Power of Attorney:

The first appointment I would advise is a Power of Attorney (POA) which is crucial for individuals diagnosed with dementia. A Power of Attorney will assist through the following:

Dementia progressively impairs cognitive abilities, including the capacity to make sound decisions about finances, healthcare and legal matters. With a POA in place, individuals can designate a trusted person to make these decisions on their behalf when they become unable to do so themselves.

Unfortunately, dementia can leave individuals vulnerable to financial exploitation and scams. By appointing a trusted agent through a financial POA, individuals can ensure that their assets are managed responsibly and in accordance with their wishes, reducing the risk of financial abuse.

As dementia advances, individuals may require complex medical care and treatment decisions. A healthcare POA allows them to appoint a representative to make healthcare decisions in line with their preferences and values when they are no longer able to express their wishes.

Without a POA in place, family members may face significant legal hurdles in managing the affairs of a loved one with dementia, which can be hugely stressful and may bring conflict. Obtaining a POA early on helps streamline decision-making processes and prevents the need for costly and time-consuming legal interventions, such as guardianship or conservatorship proceedings.

By proactively appointing someone to act on their behalf through a POA, individuals living with dementia can retain a sense of autonomy and control over their affairs for as long as possible. This can contribute to their overall wellbeing and sense of dignity as they navigate the challenges of the disease.

Obtaining a power of attorney is a proactive measure that allows individuals with dementia to plan for their future, protect their interests, and ensure their wishes are respected even as their cognitive abilities decline.


Appoint a Financial Planner or Solicitor to Manage Financial and Legal Affairs

Appointing a financial planner or solicitor upon a dementia diagnosis is vital. These professionals offer expertise in managing complex financial matters, safeguarding against exploitation and maximising available resources. With dementia's cognitive challenges, expert guidance is crucial to ensure prudent management of finances, including estate planning, tax optimisation and long-term care considerations.

Financial planners and solicitors can implement protective measures, such as monitoring systems and transaction controls, to mitigate the risk of financial abuse faced by vulnerable individuals. Additionally, they assist in navigating legal complexities like guardianship proceedings and capacity assessments. By drafting essential documents like wills, trusts and powers of attorney, they ensure that assets are distributed according to the individual's wishes, minimising tax liabilities and potential family disputes.

Ultimately, their support provides peace of mind to individuals and their families, enabling them to manage the financial implications of dementia effectively while preserving autonomy and protecting assets.


Communicate your Desires to Family Members if you Become Ill

Communicating one's desires to family members when living with dementia is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it ensures that individuals' preferences regarding their healthcare, living arrangements, and end-of-life care are known and respected, even as cognitive abilities decline. By discussing these wishes early on, family members can act as advocates and make informed decisions on behalf of their loved ones, promoting dignity and quality of life throughout the illness. Secondly, open communication ensures understanding and reduces stress for both the individual living with dementia and their family members. It allows for shared decision-making and enables family members to prepare emotionally and practically for the challenges ahead.

Discussing desires and preferences in advance helps alleviate potential conflicts or misunderstandings among family members, ensuring a smoother transition and providing clarity during difficult times. Ultimately, open and honest communication strengthens family bonds, promotes mutual support and empowers individuals living with dementia to maintain a sense of control and dignity throughout their journey with the illness.

Individuals living with dementia can document their healthcare preferences and wishes in an Advance Decision (formerly known as an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment) or an Advance Statement. These legal documents allow individuals to outline their preferences regarding medical treatment, care, and end-of-life decisions in advance, ensuring that their wishes are known and respected even if they lose the capacity to make decisions themselves.

Consider the Mental and Physical Health of your Loved Ones

Considering the physical and mental wellbeing of loved ones who may become caregivers upon a dementia diagnosis is paramount for several reasons. Firstly, caregiving can be emotionally taxing and may lead to increased stress, anxiety and depression among caregivers. The demanding nature of caregiving responsibilities, coupled with witnessing the progression of a loved one's dementia, can take a toll on mental health. Prioritising the mental wellbeing of caregivers is essential to ensure they can provide effective and compassionate care without compromising their own health.

Secondly, caregiving often requires significant physical exertion, including assisting with daily activities, managing medications and providing personal care. Over time, these physical demands can lead to exhaustion, musculoskeletal strain and other health issues for caregivers. Supporting caregivers' physical well-being through respite care, support services, and assistive devices can help prevent burnout and maintain their ability to provide care effectively.

Neglecting the well-being of caregivers can have ripple effects on the overall quality of care provided to the individual with dementia. Stressed and overburdened caregivers may struggle to meet the complex needs of their loved ones, potentially compromising their safety and wellbeing.


See as Many Residential Care Homes as Possible, as Early as Possible

When diagnosed with dementia, it's crucial to explore multiple residential care homes for several reasons. Firstly, each care home has its own unique atmosphere, facilities, and approach to dementia care. By visiting several homes, individuals and their families can find the environment and care philosophy that best suits their needs and preferences. This ensures that the individual receives personalised care that enhances their well-being and quality of life.

Secondly, seeing multiple care homes allows individuals and their families to ask questions, gather information, and make informed decisions about the type and quality of care provided. This includes considerations such as staff training, activities offered, safety measures, and the overall suitability of the home for someone with dementia.

Additionally, visiting multiple care homes provides peace of mind to both individuals and their families, knowing that they have explored all available options and selected the best possible care environment. It also allows for comparison between different homes, helping individuals feel confident in their decision and ensuring that they receive the highest standard of care possible.

Ultimately, seeing as many residential care homes as possible empowers individuals and their families to make the right choice, ensuring that they receive compassionate and tailored support as they navigate the challenges of living with dementia.


See our guide, detailing top tips to consider when choosing a care home:

Published: 17th of May 2024 by Loveday & Co

Tagged: Dementia, Loveday

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