fastingA Kent law firm is bringing together the key messages of the upcoming Dementia Awareness Week (May 17-23) and Dying Matters Awareness Week (May 18-24) to encourage as many people as possible to talk about these highly sensitive issues.

Dementia Awareness Week, backed by the Alzheimer’s Society and supported by law firm Furley Page, aims to help people understand the condition, support those who live with it, and encourage people to share their concerns.

Furley Page Partner Nicola August, who heads the firm’s Elderly and Vulnerable Client Team, said: "Both subjects can be difficult for people to open up about and are still often considered to be taboo but just talking things through with family or friends can really help change perceptions,” says

"The campaigns focus on two different issues but they both have the same message: planning ahead is vital if you want to ease the burden on you and your loved ones."

Further reading: Taking Control - A practical guide and tool for advance care planning

In 2015 there will be 850,000 people with dementia across the UK, with numbers set to rise to one million by 2015 and Nicola says "it will touch all of us either directly or indirectly at some point in our lives and can strike at any time". According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are also more than 40,000 younger people with dementia in the UK.

Planning ahead is also a key focus of Dying Matters Awareness Week, organised by the National Council for Palliative Care, which has a theme of 'Talk, Plan, Live'.

As an approved Court of Protection Panel Deputy, Nicola has assisted many clients who have been unable to make decisions for themselves and where there is no Power of Attorney in place.

“We all know we should write a Will but far fewer of us consider setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney, which enables you to choose someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf in the future if you should become incapable of making such decisions yourself,” added Nicola.

“Unfortunately, if someone loses capacity before they put an LPA in place then they will not be able to prepare one. At this stage, an application will need to be made to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy to deal with the financial affairs of that person. It is a decision that is made by the Court and you will have no choice as to who is appointed to manage your affairs. This can often cause friction between family members who feel they should be acting instead of A, B or C.

For further information see Furley Page’s Elderly and Vulnerable Client Team at www.furleypage.co.uk.