One of our roles in the Court of Protection team is to help people plan for the future. When someone has a debilitating illness, such as Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, this can be distressing for those struggling with the illness, as well as the family members who deal with the consequences.
We can assist by organising powers of attorney, or sometimes applications to the Court of Protection for a Deputy to be appointed. We can also help with thorny issues such as care home funding. These steps can all alleviate the day to day worries experienced by those with the illness and their carers, but we cannot address the very real problem of dementia as an illness.
It was therefore with great interest that my colleague Caroline Featherby and I met Mark Poarch from BRACE the other day. BRACE is a charity based in Bristol which funds research into Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and they aim to assist medical researchers understand the causes of dementia and ‘ultimately… to help science beat dementia’. Mark told us about the work carried out by BRACE and how they are keen to raise awareness of the illness and the attempts being made to find a cure. He also talked about the South West ‘brain bank‘: without the donation of brains for research, there could be no work undertaken to look for a cure. Slightly morbid, but vital.
Talking to Mark, it became clear that there are many of us fighting the same battle, but we are just using different tools. At Clarke Willmott our aim is to assist individuals with the practicalities of coping following a diagnosis. The researchers supported by BRACE – are trying to provide a cure for dementia, or at the very least a greater understanding of the causes of dementia and how it can de diagnosed earlier.
Either way – the effects of dementia can be debilitating and anything that can be done to alleviate the stress caused by a diagnosis is positive. Charities such as BRACE encourage the public to engage with the idea of dementia from a medical viewpoint. As lawyers we endeavour to empower the individual by considering the worst case scenario and making preparations, should the time come when dementia has taken a hold.
Forward planning cannot provide a cure for dementia, but hopefully it can ease the burden if the illness strikes.
For further information about powers of attorney or other issues regarding elder care, please contact a member of our Court of Protection team.