Legal Aspects of Dementia
There may be a time in the future when your symptoms mean you are no longer able to give consent. You may wish to give a relative you trust the power to make decisions about you if you are unable to. This is known as power of attorney.
There are three different types of power of attorney:
- Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for matters relating to property and financial affairs
- LPA for matters relating to the person’s welfare (including their health)
- Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). EPAs made before October 1 2007 are still valid and can only be registered if the person is losing, or has lost, their mental capacity, and must be registered by the attorney
The LPA has to be made in a fixed legal way and is not legally recognised until it is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
The person making a power of attorney for property and affairs can register the LPA while they are able to make decisions for themselves. A personal welfare LPA may only be registered when a person has lost capacity. Separate powers of attorney can be made for either LPA, or both LPAs can be appointed to the same attorney.
Dependent on a person’s capacity the Court of Protection Deputy route may need to be considered instead.
Summerfield Memory Assessment Centre can assist with all the necessary LPA documentation, please see our section on Memory Clinic Costs.
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Not everyone with dementia is restricted from driving. One in every three people with dementia are still able to drive.
What matters, from both a legal and a practical point of view, is whether the person is still able to drive safely. In order to drive safely, a person must use a range of mental abilities including:
- attention and concentration – to focus on, and switch between, multiple different driving tasks while ‘reading’ the road
- visuospatial skills – to keep to an appropriate speed and distance, and the right road position
- problem-solving skills – to respond to incidents, diversions or obstacles in the road
- judgement and decision-making – for example to interpret and anticipate what other road users are doing reaction and processing skills – perhaps to act quickly to avoid an accident.
If a person has a severe degree of cognitive impairment it is dangerous for him or her to drive and it is strictly not advisable as the rights of the individual to drive are outweighed by the risk to others.
Dr Chandrashekar Basavaraj
A consultant psychiatrist on the GMC specialist register in old age psychiatry Dr Chandrashekar Basavaraj has special recognition of his experience in dealing with mental illness in the elderly admitted on medical/surgical wards (Liaison Old Age Psychiatry endorsement). Dr Basavaraj works in Cwm Taf University Health Board in South Wales and teaches/trains junior doctors and medical students locally (Cardiff university).
Dr Basavaraj has mastered specialist skills in assessment, diagnosis and medication treatment of dementia, anxiety, depression, phobias and psychotic disorders in the elderly. His approach towards assessing older people is friendly and open. Due to the lack of information and taboo associated with mental illness and dementia Dr Basavaraj believes in a collaborative environment, allowing carers sufficient time to ask questions and express concerns during assessments.
Dr Basavaraj is approved under Section 12(2) of the mental health act 1983 as having special experience in assessment and management of mental disorders. He carries out fitness to drive assessments in conjunction with a psychologist and makes recommendations to DVLA regarding a person’s fitness to drive post diagnosis of dementia. Dr Basavaraj prepares Court of Protection (COP3) documents enabling patients to identify and formalise a Power of Attorney to make decisions about their finances and health.
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