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Danger of dementia

Put your affairs in order now, and ensure your funeral is a fitting end to your life...because if you suffer from dementia it will destroy your ability to make these judgements.

Dementia is increasing. This is due to people living longer...it is an illness that affects mainly older people.

There is also evidence that it can be linked to a stressful lifestyle and alcohol and substance misuse in earlier years.

There are over 100 types of dementia. The most common are Alzheimer’s disease; vascular dementia; and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Depending on the type and severity of dementia, symptoms can include:

  • memory loss, especially of more recent events, losing or misplacing objects and forgetfullness;
  • becoming disoriented, especially in new or unfamiliar surroundings;
  • inability to find the correct words;
  • inability to understand others; 
  • poor concentration;
  • problems with new ideas or skills;
  • poor judgemental and reasoning ability;
  • becoming irritable, saying or doing inappropriate things or becoming suspicious or aggressive.

Once dementia sets in, there are a number of consequences.

Intellectual impairment means that sufferers will not be able to make logical decisions about their wills, or funeral plans. They run the risk of the will being challenged and the funeral wishes being ignored.

As it is not possible to know when and if dementia will strike, it makes sense to put your affairs in order, including the plans for your funeral, now.

Don’t keep putting it off, because you don’t know when it will be too late.

If you are worried that an elderely relative has not put their affairs in order, advise them and if appropriate, assist them to put their affairs in order.

If a will is not written, the laws of intestacy apply.

If a funeral is not planned in advance, it is less likely to be a fitting end to a unique life.

We believe a good life deserves a good end, and we want people to put their affairs in order rather than leaving grieving loved ones to 'sort out the mess', with the stress and disputes that often arise.

So take control now by listing your funeral wishes. If you have not written a will, appoint a solicitor and write it as soon as possible.

Get good advice on financial matters to ensure you have sufficient income for your last years. Plan the medical care you wish to have, and the end of life care decisions you wish to be carried out.

If you think you may become a victim of dementia, plan the care you wish to have. BUPA provide excellent advice, and their care homes specialise in giving those in the final stages of dementia dignified and personal care.

Consider also the memory you want to leave others. Write your life history, and that of your family.

Think of the things that make you unique - photographs, your favourite music, your achievements and interests, your hopes for the future.

Put all of these in your Lifebox, so it becomes a digital time capsule for others to access in future years. You will be able to add to them and amend them.

You must nominate a second key holder who can only open your Lifebox when you give permission or on your death.

You should inform the second key holder - your executor is the most sensible choice - of what is in the Lifebox and what you expect him or her to read first to ensure you have the funeral you have planned.

If it seems a good idea, start this now before it is too late. Don’t put it off...because you never know what might happen, and unfortunately that includes the onset of dementia.

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