Dementia Myth Buster

 In Adam Fletcher, Dementia Action Alliance, Helen Webster, Jill Waddington, Powers of Attorney, Ridley & Hall Solicitors, Victoria Maude, Wills

Dementia is a medical condition that causes confusion for those diagnosed and for their carers and loved ones. There are many myths out there about the condition and also what it means in relation to day to day life.

Myth Number 1: There is nothing you can do about dementia once you have it.

Whilst dementia is a progressive disease meaning it continues to get worse, there are steps you can take to slow down its progress. You should consult with your doctor to find medications that may help to address the symptoms of dementia and also ensure you stay as physically, mentally, and socially active as possible.

Myth Number 2: People with dementia don’t know what they want or can’t communicate what they want.

People living with dementia usually do know what they want. The problem is that they have trouble communicating their needs properly. It is important to have patience and to take the time to understand the person’s needs. The majority of our staff at Ridley & Hall are Dementia Friends and as such understand how to deal with the challenges in advising people living with dementia. Our Wills & Probate team are specialists and have vast experience in this field.

Myth Number 3: People diagnosed with dementia cannot make a Will or a power of attorney.

A diagnosis of dementia does not automatically mean that a person cannot make a Will or power of attorney. Early action is key. If a person is diagnosed with dementia it is extremely important that you contact us as soon as possible. We will then meet with the person living with dementia to assess whether or not in our view he or she has the mental capacity to be able to be able to make a Will and power of attorney. If they do not, an application can be made to the Court of Protection for someone to be appointed to make decisions on behalf of the person who lacks capacity to make decisions for themselves. This process is however considerably more expensive and time consuming.

Myth Number 4: If I have a joint account and my partner has dementia but hasn’t made a power of attorney, it’s okay because I can still continue to operate the joint account

If one of the joint account holders can no longer make decisions for his or herself, this means that they can no longer give their consent for the other joint bank account holder to operate the account. The result is that the bank account is frozen.

If the joint account holder who has lost capacity has not made a power of attorney and no one has been appointed by the Court of Protection to make decisions on their behalf, the bank or building society may use their discretion to allow limited use of funds for essential transactions such as living expenses, but there is no guarantee this will happen. This is why it is important to make a power of attorney whilst you still have the mental capacity to do so, as should this unfortunate situation arise, the people you trust can access your accounts on your behalf.

Dementia Friends logoRidley & Hall are striving to become a dementia friendly firm and as part of our commitment to this have four Dementia Friends Champions and the majority of our staff are now Dementia Friends. Our offices are accessible and have dementia friendly signs. Home visits are also available as we often find that people living with dementia feel more relaxed and comfortable in their own surroundings.

We understand the challenges involved with dealing with people living with dementia and of those who provide care for them.

Early action is key. Contact our specialist Wills & Probate team either by calling us on 01484 538421 or by e-mail.