A new report reveals that 96% of people in the South West leave important health and welfare decisions to chance. While 73% of people in the region would like a family member to make medical and care decisions on their behalf in the event of mental incapacity, 83% have not discussed their end of life medical and care wishes.
The report is titled The incapacity crisis: a nation unprepared by SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) - a specialist organisation that connects older and vulnerable clients with legal experts - and independent think tank Centre for Future Studies. Many of Stone King’s Private Client lawyers are members of SFE, hence the national law firm is sharing this important research and encouraging South West residents to tackle the taboos around end of life planning, in order to prevent an incapacity crisis.
The report looks at the increasing number of people living with dementia which, combined with the failure to plan ahead for mental incapacity, exposes a looming crisis across the UK. The research finds that 70% of people in the South West are worried about dementia and losing the ability to make decisions for themselves, but 39% in the region admit to having made no provisions at all for later life, including a will, pension, funeral plan or lasting power of attorney (LPA).
The survey also highlights that planning ahead is surrounded by misconceptions. While almost two-thirds of people in the region would like a family member to make medical and care decisions on their behalf, these potential life-changing decisions are out of a loved ones’ hands if a registered health and welfare LPA is not in place.
The research highlights that there are currently 928,000 Health and Welfare LPAs registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) across England and Wales, compared to the 12.8 million people over the age of 65 who run the risk of developing dementia – a difference of nearly 93%. Only 4% of people in the South West surveyed by SFE have a health and welfare LPA in place. The organisation, and Stone King, are calling on people to act now and start a conversation with loved ones about end of life topics to remove the stigma surrounding the discussion.
Lakshmi Turner, Chief Executive of SFE, says: “Most of us do not like thinking about, let alone talking about, death, disability or disease, despite the fact that it touches all our lives – but it is essential that we do so. Planning ahead by talking to family or friends shouldn’t be seen as doom and gloom, it’s about having a positive conversation about welfare, empowering your loved ones and making the decision-making process easier for everyone.”
Alison Allen, Head of Private Sector at Stone King, adds: “We have helped to put in place many carefully considered lasting powers of attorney for clients, however many people don’t realise quite how significant these documents are in ensuring their wishes are carried out if they can no longer make decisions for themselves.”
For more information of the report please visist the SFE website.
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