Alzheimer’s Southampton Case Study
Like so many, as a home owner, her asset value exceeds the means test limit for government – local council funding...
Alzheimer’s is a disease that once experienced as a carer/observer you truly wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy as the saying goes. It is truly awful to watch a loved one’s world shrink starting with in some cases slight memory loss that grows. What some don’t realise about memory loss in the Alzheimer’s sufferer is that it isn’t limited to events of the past and people. The brain stops recognising things. I was told by my own mother’s nurse about ‘sundowning’. A time of day when some sufferers experience increased anxiousness, however that is displayed. She told me that it was thought that as the light changes, (hence the name sundowning) objects, rooms, faces, looked different, the shadows, the tone changes, which to the normal functioning brain is easy to ignore/accept as generally we know what things look like, people etc. in different lights. But to the impaired mind of the Alzheimer’s sufferer it causes confusion, because the mind has forgotten it is the same!
This was brought back to my memory this week when talking to Janet, a lady in her 80’s in central Southampton who had enquired about Lasting Powers of Attorney. Her husband of 60 years plus had been taken into care suffering from Alzheimer’s. She was as most carers of loved ones, almost beside herself. She had watched the man she loved lose himself to the point he no longer recognised once familiar faces, he had no real idea who his wife was anymore and was tortured daily by fear and anguish of the sufferer known and observed by many a carer like Janet. On top of this was the journey to the care home to contend with for a lady in her 80's.
Janet was preparing, with her daughter, to arrange powers of attorney and was enquiring of the cost through Assured Wills Southampton. Having personal experience of the disease, having cared for my mother for several years, having seen her taken into care, the topic of our conversation was very familiar to me.
LPA's should be arranged in advance
We never think it might happen to us, or one we love, so most of us go on into the future completely unprepared for such a catastrophe. Other than a simple Will Janet had no protections in place learning the hard way about Lasting Powers of Attorney. Her enquiry was focused on getting both LPA’s in place for her daughter over herself so that she knew, that if she should, like her husband, lose capacity, that her daughter would be able to legally take control of her life and be her voice. (LPA's should be arranged in advance - see The Heather Bateman Story )
Advance Planning Really Does Help
Like so many, as home owners, their asset value exceeds the means test limit for government – local council funding so her husband is what’s termed as a self-funder as was my own mother. My mother is the reason why I do what I do today in helping people prepare for the possibility of dark clouds gathering in future. Like my mum, Janet's asset value is hardly in the hundreds of thousands, but never the less it is over £23,250.
The treacherous position Janet finds herself in is, she is in her later years, and dreads the thought that she should predecease her husband leaving him alone God bless her. Should she predecease her husband, the house would more than likely be put up for sale to contribute to the ongoing care costs for her husband. Like my own mother’s estate, Janet’s could be almost totally swallowed up in care costs. Why? Because as joint home owners, on her death her husband would inherit the whole property automatically, it becomes his asset completely and therefore vulnerable almost without question to being used to pay for his care until the end of his life.
Personally I think this is very unfair, especially for a generation who worked and paid taxes all their lives under the premise that they’d be looked after from the cradle to the grave by our National Health Service. Naïve maybe? Times change, and goodness our governments certainly have, one after the other!
However it doesn’t have to be this way, the law does provide protective mechanisms tried and tested over time to prevent all being lost. Why isn’t this publicised? I don’t know frankly, but the cynic in me can guess. Lasting Powers of Attorney are an excellent measure to take to be prepared for the unthinkable happening and in addition some straight forward estate planning can provide a robust answer should the dark clouds gather in later years, providing some ease for family, and safeguarding at least some inheritance for them.