21st to 27th of May is Dementia Action Week – an event organised by the Alzheimer’s Society in support of those living with dementia, their families and carers. During the week, the Society asks that you choose and share an action to support people with dementia – this might be listening to a person with dementia, being there for their loved ones or simply asking questions and learning more about this debilitating condition. To support the campaign, simply visit the website, choose an action and share the badge that is generated on social media to help raise awareness. For example:
The word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. A number of diseases lead to dementia – these include Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular dementia, Mixed dementia, Dementia with Lewy bodies and Frontotemporal dementia (including Pick’s disease).
Around 850,000 people in the UK have dementia and the numbers are likely to reach more than 1 million by 2025, according to the Society. By 2051, the figure could be around 2 million. 225,000 people will develop dementia this year, which equates to one diagnosis every three minutes.
Dementia does not exclusively affect elderly people – there are over 40,000 people under 65 with dementia in the UK.
Raise awareness: The Alzheimer’s Society is keen to help people understand the challenges those living with dementia face every day – such as being ignored in conversations, or being overlooked when it comes to planning social events. A simple tweet or Facebook share can help raise awareness of the condition and combat ignorance. Use the hashtag #DAW2018 to join in the conversation.
Look after yourself: The Alzheimer’s Society recommend you take steps to reduce your risk of dementia. These include being physically active, eating healthily, not smoking, drinking less alcohol, exercising your mind (use it or lose it!) and taking control of your health – particularly if you’ve reached mid-life. Certain health issues such as lack of sleep can increase your risk of dementia, so it’s important to get in touch with your GP and get help as soon as possible. You can find out more about reducing your risk of dementia here.
Organise your affairs: Sadly anyone at any age can lose mental capacity, whether by developing dementia or through an accident or stroke. Many people will leave it until later life to make a Will and Lasting Power of Attorney, but this can be a huge mistake. The absence of a Will means the rules of intestacy apply and these don’t always work as expected. Similarly, the absence of a Lasting Power of Attorney can have devastating consequences – accounts can be frozen with no funds available to pay expenses whilst a ‘Deputyship Order‘ is obtained from the Court.
Making a Will and LPA puts you in control of decisions relating to your future and allows you to protect your assets for your children and grandchildren. As none of us really know what the future holds, it’s important to put these documents in place early in life. If you’ve already received a diagnosis of dementia but your condition is still in the early stages, you may still be able to make a Will and Lasting Power of Attorney – however, you will need to act quickly.
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