Getting organised now means you can feel confident that the care and support you are receiving is right for you and your family.

Planning for the future after a diagnosis of dementia enables people to play a key role in making important decisions on their care needs and financial and legal affairs.

Here is a list of things to consider when planning for the future:

Deciding on the type of care that a person with dementia receives is a very important part of the process. It is essential that the person with dementia is involved in this discussion, as they will be the most aware of which type of care will be most suited to their preferences. When holding the conversation regarding which type of care would be best, it is useful to consider any factor that could possibly have an effect on the quality of care received i.e. cost, accessibility, location, interpersonal relationship, physical ability etc.

There are various options regarding the care of an individual with dementia, with some being more hands on than others. It can be helpful to request a ‘Care Needs Assessment’ from the social services, who are able to carry out an assessment on the person with dementia and recommend the standard of care that they feel would be most suitable. A Care Needs Assessment is also able to provide support plans to the person and can conduct a financial assessment is required.

It is important to be aware of the financial impact that takes place for a person with dementia and their carer(s). It is very likely that regardless of which care plan is chosen, it will be accompanied by a financial consideration that can sometimes cause problems in the future. If this is not sufficiently planned for, it is possible that the person with dementia will not be able to continue to receive the care needed.

Fortunately, there is help and support available for people who have dementia and their carers. These schemes include:

  • Attendance Allowance – Benefits for people who are aged 65 and over and require care assistance at their home, which can be claimed regardless of income.
  • Personal Independence Payment – Benefits for people who are aged under 65 and require care assistance at their home.
  • Carer’s Allowance – A benefit for people who care for someone for more than 35 hours a week.
  • Carer’s Credit – A benefit for people who are aged under 65 and are looking after someone for more than 20 hours a week.

The housing situation of a person with dementia is also an important factor to consider. It is likely that the requirements of the home environment will change when an individual is diagnosed with dementia. This can sometimes be difficult to plan for, as it is not always possible to predict how to facilitate a person’s requirements at the beginning of the dementia journey. Therefore, it is important to communicate with the person who has dementia and try to highlight the aspects of the home environment that are most important. This will make it easier to gauge which housing options suit the person and allow an understanding of what makes them feel comfortable.

There are a wide range of housing options available, many with individual qualities that have been tailored to suit the needs of specific people. This includes housing with minimal supervision, in the hope of providing their residents with the autonomy to continue to be self-sufficient whilst also being able to remain close and provide assistance when needed. There is also housing available that provides extra care to the person, which includes housing management support, emergency call systems, meals, community activities and domestic support.

Before a housing option is chosen, it is important to consider the condition of the person with dementia and how they are developing through the process, as this should be a deciding factor in regard to which housing is selected. Although the person with dementia may feel healthy and opt for the most autonomous housing, if their condition changes for the worse they may need to be relocated to a more supervised establishment could be distressing. This is an important consideration and can sometimes be a difficult concept to discuss with a person with dementia. When doing so, try to make them feel as secure and comfortable as possible

The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) has been designed to protect people who may lack the mental ability to make sensible decisions regarding their health, wellbeing, care and treatment. The act covers simple decisions regarding things such as shopping and clothing, but can also be involved in serious life-changing decisions such as housing or surgery. The MCA provides suggestions as to how a person who may lack the mental ability to make decisions should be treated.

Each adult has the right to make their own decisions and it should be assumed that, unless proved otherwise, they possess the capacity to do so. The MCA states that just because somebody has been diagnosed with dementia or any other medical condition, it does not mean that they are automatically unable to make suitable decisions regarding their circumstances. The MCA also states that just because a person may make a decision that seems unwise or eccentric to others, it does not necessarily mean that the person lacks mental capacity. Each person has their own value and belief system which may not be in alignment with another person’s perceptions. It is important to consider this when attempting to judge a person’s mental capacity.

‘Lasting power of attorney’ (LPA) relates to a legal document that allows an individual or individuals to make important decisions on behalf of somebody who may no longer be able to safely make them for themselves. Due to the extent of the responsibility, this is often attributed to an individual or individuals who is a close friend or family of the person afflicted.

The LPA is affiliated with the Mental Capacity Act, and is usually required when a person is no longer able to understand the information needed to make decisions, retain certain information long enough to make a decision, compare different pieces of information and communicate their decision effectively. It can be helpful to discuss an LPA early on in the dementia journey, as putting these provisions in place can be helpful in providing reassurance to the person with dementia that they will be taken care of in future.

Advance care planning is a process which allows a person with dementia to plan for their current and future healthcare. It involves discussing the person’s values, beliefs and preferences in regard to their loved ones and medical practices. This results in a legal document being produced that outlines which medical procedures the person is comfortable with and allows them to refuse any specific treatments in advance.

The purpose of advance care planning is to ensure that the person with dementia does not receive any unwanted treatment at a time when they may lack the mental capacity to decide for themselves. Advance care planning also gives the person with dementia an option to make general statements about their priorities and preferences for the future, in addition to certain procedures. Although the document is not necessarily legally binding, it should be taken into account when making important healthcare decisions.

For more information about planning ahead with dementia, please click here.

For more information on the care of an individual with dementia, please click here.

For more information about a Care Needs Assessment, please click here.

For more information financial planning, please click here.

For more information about housing considerations, please click here.

For more information on the Mental Capacity Act, please click here.

For more information about the lasting power of attorney process, please click here.

For more information about advance care planning, please click here.

There are some other benefits which are not specifically for people affected by dementia, but which may be available for someone affected by dementia, or caring for someone living with dementia.  Further details can be fund on the Alzheimer’s Society website.