A recent article in the news highlighted the shocking fact that each year there are around 127,000 dementia sufferers that are the victims of financial abuse.
As many as 127,500 of 850,000 people with dementia in the UK have been targeted by criminals. Sadly, the number of dementia patients is set to rise to more than a million people by 2025 and over two million by 2051.
The lack of control dementia sufferers have over their finances as the disease robs them of their memories means they can also waste thousands of pounds paying the same bills multiple times or by giving money away.
If a family member is diagnosed with dementia, often the most pressing financial concern people have is over how much care they’ll need and what it will cost.
However, dementia can also raise all sorts of other problems, from sufferers believing someone is stealing from them to repeatedly paying the same bills, and even financial abuse.
Examples of financial abuse could be stealing pension payments, the forging of signatures on cheques or putting pressure on someone with dementia to act as guarantor for a loan.
Protecting someone with dementia from scammers is far easier if they have drawn up a Lasting Power of Attorney. This allows them to name an individual they trust to step in to make decisions for them when they cannot cope anymore.
But this must be done before the disease has progressed too far. If you wait until their dementia has progressed and they have lost their mental capacity, it’s too late. You can still make decisions for your loved one, but you’ll need to apply for deputyship which takes longer, costs more and will limit how much you can do for them.
People with failing mental faculties are prone to telephone, email or in person scams such as false offers of prizes, identity theft or home and car repair and insurance scams.
Experts say a tell-tale sign that a vulnerable person has been conned is that signatures on cheques or other papers do not look like theirs and if the person’s will has been changed without permission or their home has been sold without their agreement.
You should also be worried if the person has signed legal papers such as a will, power of attorney or joint deed to a house without understanding what the papers mean and if items that belong to the dementia sufferer such as clothes or jewellery go missing.
Finances can be one of those things that people may find awkward and taboo to talk about. However, if you or your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, it’s crucial to plan ahead to make sure all financial affairs are in check for later life.
The reality is that having dementia puts people at a greater risk of financial abuse for many reasons. Exploiting vulnerable people for financial gain is deplorable but scammers do this on a daily basis.
Everyone with dementia should be assumed to have capacity to make decisions, but as dementia progresses, some people may opt to create a Lasting Power of Attorney allowing for their families or carers to act on their behalf.
It’s crucial that all decisions are well informed and made in the best interest of the person with dementia.
There are many types of Lasting Power of Attorney, relating to bank accounts, pensions and medical treatment, so it’s important to find the one that is right for your situation.
Ollie and the team at Tyto Law can help put you and your loved ones’ mind at rest and get a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, so why not get in touch today [email protected] or call us on 01724 642 842 and get this sorted.