In the last few years, the scale of the problem posed by dementia has become all too clear. According to the most recent statistics, some 800,000 men and women are currently afflicted by the condition, and that number is set to double within the next few decades.
Unsurprisingly, more people are making sensible arrangements should they also lose the capacity to manage their own affairs.
They are making documents giving nominated individuals what is known as Lasting Power of Attorney (or LPAs, for short), allowing decisions to be made on their behalf either about their property and finances or their health and welfare – or, in fact, both. However, such has been the popularity of LPAs that the Office for the Public Guardian (OPG), the body charged with registering them, has admitted struggling to cope.
Figures which my colleagues and I have uncovered show that the number of LPAs has almost doubled in the last two years.
The OPG has claimed that the demand for the documents has outstripped its “ageing technology” and resulted in it taking longer than planned to process them.
As we have discovered, that has resulted in cases in which people have made LPAs setting out their intentions to refuse life-prolonging treatment only to be treated against their wishes. It’s a topic which I’ve spoken to the Daily Telegraph about.
Despite such difficulties, though, there are distinct benefits to making an LPA or ‘living Will’ as they have become known.
They enable someone to have a say in what should happen to them even if they are prevented from exercising full control because of a deterioration in their health.
I have been advising those making LPAs to inform their GPs and hospital consultants so that the documents become part of their medical record, thereby avoiding the potential for confusion and complication.
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