• Blog Post
  • Patrick Bawn

Dealing With Dementia: How To Handle The Legal & Financial Considerations

by Patrick Bawn

Dementia is a disease that can turn your world upside down.

Not only is there the sudden change of circumstances to think about, but there are the healthcare costs, the day-to-day changes and a plethora of other factors* to consider in order to ensure your loved one enjoys their remaining years as much as possible.
One of the key factors you’ll need to think about early on though is the legal and financial considerations that come attached to a dementia diagnosis.
While it may be difficult getting through the initial shock of the diagnosis itself, being smart about the legal and financial factors involved is vital for maintaining the overall welfare of your loved one throughout their condition.
But, since law and finances can be fairly complicated, knowing where to start can be difficult.
In this article, we will run through some of the best ways to handle the legal and financial considerations associated with dementia.
From starting your planning early to keeping a careful eye on their ongoing treatment, there are things you can do to remove the stress from your loved one’s shoulders.

Start Planning Early

In essence, the earlier you can start planning, the better. And, ideally, this should happen almost as soon as the diagnosis has been made.
The reason for this is mainly because it becomes more difficult getting your loved one to agree to certain legal and financial demands as the disease progresses. In other words, once the condition develops to an advanced stage, your loved one’s ability to understand complicated concepts diminishes, making it a lot more difficult for legal preparations to be completed.
While it may be a difficult subject to broach, the earlier you can start, the easier it will be.
Many early-onset dementia patients understandably won’t feel ready to give up their legal and financial independence just yet, but putting processes in place which ensure those powers don’t fall into the wrong hands is imperative.
As their friend or family member, their money, property and estate needs to fall into the hands of people they genuinely love and trust. By leaving it too late, they may lose control of their previous financial security – impacting their credit score or unintentionally losing money – making it much harder to build back up again.

Develop A Healthcare Plan

 While on the topic of making sure powers don’t fall into the wrong hands, working with your loved one to develop a healthcare plan is another logical decision.
Having this in place will protect you later on in their diagnosis, as it will provide you with a detailed methodology on how to treat your loved one on a range of potential issues when they reach a point where they’re unable to make informed decisions.
Adding this health care directive into their living will can also protect you and provide you with legal backing should you require it.
However, since you won't be able to foresee every potential issue that arises, you will also need to ensure your directive provides a trusted medical power of attorney as well. This will need to be somebody your loved one trusts enough to make medical-based decisions on their behalf.

Monitor Their Treatment

While there may be nothing you can do about the effects dementia has on your loved one, you can reduce the likelihood of them coming into harm during their treatment program.
As horrible as it is to say, people with dementia are at a heightened risk of being mistreated and taken advantage of as their condition progresses as, due to their weakened cognitive function, they become an easy target for some people to prey on.
Therefore, to avoid your loved one from suffering abuse of any kind or enduring any substandard level of care, it’s important to keep a close eye on them and set up legal protections in advance, just in case.
Many cases go unnoticed and underreported so, by making the effort to visit your loved one on a regular basis, you’ll be in a much better position to pinpoint if they’ve been mistreated and take action accordingly.
You will also be able to make their transition into social care and a care home environment both safer and easier, since you’ll be more aware of the homes to either trial or avoid.

Final Thoughts

Dementia is a heartbreaking disease which can be incredibly hard to come to terms with.
However, protecting the interests of your loved one throughout their condition is imperative, and that starts with thinking about the financial and legal considerations involved.
By planning early and developing directives which cover their healthcare, estate, property, finances and treatment procedures, you will not only help make sure your loved one stays legally protected, but you will also ensure their remaining years are as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

* to access some of these links, you may need to scroll down to the bottom of the screen and change the region to US.

patrick-bawn-headshot-cropped.jpgPatrick Bawn MSc/MA is an NCTJ-accredited journalist and double Masters graduate from Brighton. Having written for numerous publications both online and in print, he specialises in a wide range of topics – from health and biology, to travel and technology. Away from writing, he enjoys football, tennis and walking his dog Daisy. He’s also a singer-songwriter in his spare time and is on a mission to visit every pub in Brighton at least once. He’s already completed Bristol. 

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