Safeguarding your health: LPAs and Messages in a Bottle
Today marks the start of Dementia Awareness Week and with an estimated 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, this condition is something that needs to be discussed. Should you or your family be affected by a form of the disease, plans can be put in place to help you cope.
Dementia affects a person's capacity to make decisions as well as their general health and wellbeing. It is a condition which generally gets worse over time and is by its nature difficult to predict and manage. It is therefore important for those affected by dementia (whether that be the person who has been diagnosed or their friends and family) to take steps as quickly as possible to help safeguard their health where they can and avoid any unnecessary difficulties as time goes on.
Two key steps to take to achieve this are putting in place a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney and keeping a 'Message in a Bottle' in the fridge.
Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
Following a diagnosis of dementia, it is important to ensure that you have appointed attorneys who can make decisions relating to your healthcare should you lose the capacity to do so yourself. This is because you can only put an LPA in place so long as you are deemed to have mental capacity.
Usually, you would appoint a friend or family member to be your attorney as it may be easier to discuss your views regarding certain aspects of your healthcare such as end of life care, with people you know well and trust. However, it is also possible to appoint a professional experienced in dealing with LPAs such as a GP or a solicitor as your attorney.
Health and Welfare LPAs are integral to ensuring that the health of those suffering with dementia is as well looked after as possible and are a way of providing some level of comfort and certainty at a difficult time. An LPA is a formal document which is registered at the office of the Public Guardian, and is widely recognised by institutions and professions.
Message in a Bottle
Another simple yet effective way of safeguarding the health of those suffering from dementia is by ordering a Lions 'Message in a Bottle'.
This is an emergency bottle which does what it says on the tin - you fill in a form with your basic personal information, medical details and emergency contact details and store it in the fridge.
If the emergency services are ever called to the house, they will check the fridge and immediately be aware of your identity and any special medication or allergies you might have and can get in contact with your family.
The Lions Message in a Bottle is free and anybody can get one, either through your GP, Local Pharmacy or Local Lions Club. It is a simple precaution to take that saves lives and provides comfort and reassurance to you, your family and friends.
For further information on putting in place a Health and Welfare LPA and Messages in a Bottle please contact Sophie Cisler or Anna Protheroe in our Succession & Tax team.