Dealing with a dementia diagnoses:
As our population ages, and general health care improves many more people are beginning to suffer from conditions which lead to dementia. There are lots of things to think about if this happens to you, or somebody in your family.
Powers of Attorney:
You should think about making a Lasting Power of Attorney. This allows you to get somebody you trust to make decisions for you, should you need them to. There are two different sorts of powers of attorney – one for money and property, and the other for health and welfare. If you set up a power of attorney you don’t need use it until you need to. It is something that you can do for yourself – and the government website allows you to do the paperwork easily online. It’s not complicated. There is a fee for each power of attorney to be filed, which is £82. Some people are able to receive an exemption to the fees because they receive certain means tested benefits.
For more information you to www.gov.uk/lasting-power-attorney-duties
You may be eligible to some benefits to help you with any extra care you might need. The main benefits to think about are likely to be Attendance Allowance (or Personal Independence Payment for people of working age). It might also be the case that the people providing you with care are entitled to Carers Allowance, or increased rates of exiting benefits, including credit for national insurance.
It can be complicated, but your local Citizens Advice is very happy to help you understand what you might be entitled to, and to help you make your claim, One good tip is to phone and order the appropriate forms, so that when you do get help with them, the benefit is dated from when you ordered them – so long as you send them in before, in most cases, six weeks (or 1 month for Personal Independence Payment).
A common concern is whether you are still allowed to drive. Dementia is not in itself a cause of having to stop driving. You must inform the DVLA (and your insurers), who will look at each case. They are likely to ask your doctor for a medical report on your condition and its impact on your safeness to drive. This will generally mean your licence is renewed on an annual basis. In some cases the DVLA might feel it is necessary for you to take a special driving assessment.
Don’t forget to tell your insurers about your diagnosis.
You may also qualify for a blue badge – which will let you or the person driving you have permission to park more freely. A recent ruling has made it clear that ‘invisible’ conditions – such as dementia – should as well as physical conditions be grounds for the award of a blue badge.
You make your application to the local council.
Council Tax Exemptions:
If you are ‘severely mentally impaired’, then you can apply to your council to be ‘ignored for council tax purposes’. You will need a certificate form your GP, as well as having an underlying entitled to certain benefits – even though it is likely that you might not qualify for because of your age.
If you need to adapt your home so that you can continue to live in it with a disability – such as for example needing to fit a more accessible bathroom and toilet then you can ask the council to reduce your council tax banding. If you are already a in the lowest band, you can apply for the band to be reduced by one sixth.
Access to your doctors:
Your GP will be one of the most important people involved in supporting you. Many people with dementia can neglect other health problems. If you have any concerns go to see you GP. They are key in explaining what your diagnosis means to you, and about what medicines are available to help slow the progress of the illness.
Don’t forget that for all people 75 years of older your GP practice is required to allow you see your registered doctor – if you would like to, and that this ‘continuity of care’ can be very valuable for people with dementia.
Support for Carers:
The main people involved in caring for you are also entitled to receive extra support from their GP, support which includes an annual health check-up.
You might also think about finding out more about support for carers locally – such as your local carers centre or service. They will help carers with their advice and information needs as well as offering more practical support.
A good place to start finding out more is form the charity called Gaddum – which is responsible for delivering a good many of the carers services across Greater Manchester – including Salford. www.gaddumcentre.co.uk.
To be entitled to help from the council’s social services (in Salford this is provider jointly through Salford Royal) you normally need something to have been given something called a ‘community care assessment’. Depending on the severity of your care needs you may receive practical help. You may be required to contribute to the cost of this extra care. You should speak to your local Citizens Advice about this.