Elder Law

The UK Government’s Battle Against Dementia

The government has promised it will spend more than £300m on the battle against dementia, which is set to be one of the biggest problems Britain’s health system will face during the next two decades. The money will be invested into research and support services over the next five years as part of the Challenge on Dementia 2020 initiative.

Dementia is not an illness in itself, it’s a name for the mental disorders caused by strokes and diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Although the early symptoms, such as forgetfulness, are likely to be minor, they can develop into a highly debilitating condition that deeply affects the lives of sufferers, their families and friends.

It has been estimated that by 2025 there will be 1 million people in the UK living with some form of dementia. So Prime Minister David Cameron has unveiled a number of government led measures that aim to encourage better understanding and management of the disorder, as well as further development of treatment and preventative steps.

There are 1.3 million people working for the NHS and the intention is for everyone from clinical staff to porters to be given dementia training in order to improve care standards. A trained network of about 3 million dementia ‘friends’ will also be created; the plan being to enlist sympathetic members of the public to the cause. However, the major commitment is the pledge to spend at least £300m on medical research and technology. This is set to include the establishment of an international dementia institute to carry out innovative trials and studies.

Although the Challenge Dementia 2020 announcement has been welcomed, it’s important to remember that people suffering from the condition will still need assistance to put their business and personal affairs in order before their symptoms become too advanced.

If legal agreements have not been made prior to the conditioning worsening then families can often lack the authority to make decisions on behalf of the sufferer, which means they will likely have to go to court in order to obtain the relevant powers.

One way to avoid this problem altogether is for people to create a Lasting Power of Attorney while they are still in good health. There are two LPAs; one that covers property and finance, and another that deals with personal welfare. Both allow a nominated person to take control of important, and everyday, decisions should the need arise.