Thankfully, as a nation, we are all living longer – but one of the downsides of this is an increase in age-related illnesses, such as dementia.
Unfortunately, this condition often means intelligent and sharp-minded people lose some of their mental faculties – which has led the Alzheimers Society to warn that these vulnerable people can become victims of financial abuse.
According to figures released by the charity, there are more than 800,000 with dementia in the UK and in the next seven years this will top one million – potentially even more people being taken advantage of.
The charity said the problem of financial abuse of those suffering the condition is now rife – with 15 per cent of social care professionals saying they know of clients who have been abused and 62 per cent saying their loved one has been targeted by unsolicited sales people.
Many people are unaware of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which will allow people to manage money on behalf of loved ones under what is known as lasting power of attorney agreements – a much-needed solution for this problem.
A lasting power of attorney is a document which allows another person to make decisions where a person has lost mental capacity, but they can only be set up when the person is still able to make decisions for themselves.
It is necessary to safeguard an increasing number of people and also make dealing with the financial affairs of people in need of help much easier.
If you try talking to banks or utility companies on behalf of someone else you will see just what a headache it is. It is virtually impossible.
Imagine how difficult that is if the person is not able to make decisions themselves.
When the capacity to make the decision has been lost, it is too late and an application must be made to the Court of Protection – a lengthy and pricy process.
Once a lasting power of attorney is in place it does not mean the donor can no longer make decisions for themselves. They can carry on as before, but the attorney is there just in case they are needed.
For the sake of many people, we hope those hearing about this will take a pragmatic approach and save a lot of heartache for their families further down the line.