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New Type of Dementia Identified and the Legal Implications

01 May

New Type of Dementia Identified and the Legal Implications

News that scientists have identified a new type of dementia could aid understanding of this complex illness, and will be important in considering the legal issues that can affect elderly people.

News that scientists have identified a new type of dementia could aid understanding of this complex illness, and will be important in considering the legal issues that can affect elderly people (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-48092570).

The condition, known as “Late” (limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy) has been reported in the journal Brain, with a leading expert describing it as “probably the most important paper to be published in the field of dementia in the last five years”. Scientists believe the condition tends to cause a more gradual decline in memory than the more well-known Alzheimer’s Disease and that millions of people may have been misdiagnosed.

Research found that one in five people over the age of 80 is affected by Late. These figures will come as a surprise to many and highlight how much care is needed to ensure that the interests of potentially vulnerable older people are protected even where there has been no formal diagnosis of dementia or, as may be the case with Late, symptoms might not be immediately obvious. Developments like this provide vital knowledge for lawyers working in this specialist area, as they give further insight into the possible effects of different types of dementia on an older person’s capacity to make a Will or a Lasting Power of Attorney, for example.

This news reinforces how prevalent dementia is becoming as our population ages, and it’s a reminder of the importance of proper planning for later life. Katie Winslow, one of our specialist Solicitors, says, “We unfortunately see cases where the need for a Lasting Power of Attorney hasn’t been appreciated until the person concerned no longer has capacity to make one, by which point it’s too late. In these circumstances we advise on applications to court for the appointment of a Deputy where appropriate, but this is generally a more costly process and can leave people in limbo while they wait for access to money to pay for vital expenses like care. We are also dealing with more and more cases where “informal” arrangements, for example adding a family member to an elderly relative’s bank account or providing access to online banking, lead to allegations of financial abuse. It’s really important to seek legal advice to ensure that you have everything you need to protect you and your loved ones in later life, or if you are concerned that a vulnerable person might be at risk.”

We have a team of lawyers at Bell & Buxton who specialise in advising on elderly client issues including Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Deputyships and Court of Protection matters, disputes regarding the management of an older person’s affairs and cases of financial abuse. A number of our solicitors are fully accredited or associate members of Solicitors for the Elderly, meaning that they have demonstrated their particular knowledge in this delicate area of law. If you feel that a no obligation, free of charge discussion on any of these issues might be helpful then give us a call on 0114 249 5969.