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How to Get Power of Attorney for an Elderly Parent with Dementia: UK Guide

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

It’s never easy taking care of an older parent or relative who has dementia. While a senior in the early stages of dementia may still be able to manage their own affairs to some extent, most people with dementia will eventually need someone else to begin making decisions for them.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal mechanism that allows an older person to appoint someone else to make decisions for them when they lose the ability to make their own decisions. However, the older person needs to have “mental capacity” at the time when they make the LPA. In other words, the Lasting Power of Attorney needs to be made early in the course of dementia, before symptoms become too severe.

However, not all elderly people with dementia make a Lasting Power of Attorney before they lose mental capacity. In this case, there are still steps family members can take to protect their older relative and make decisions for them. This is called becoming an older person’s deputy.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how to get power of attorney for elderly parents with dementia. UK residents can also apply to the Court of Protection to become the deputy of a person who doesn’t have mental capacity, and we’ll explain how that works too. Either way, these legal tools allow a person with dementia to be protected when they no longer have the ability to make decisions and manage their own wellbeing and household.

What is mental capacity?

According to the NHS guidance on mental capacity, a person with dementia lacks mental capacity to make a decision if at least one of these conditions is true:

  • The person can’t understand the facts or details involved in the decision
  • The person forgets the relevant facts or details before they can make the decision
  • The person is unable to assess or judge the facts or details
  • The person can’t indicate what they have decided. They don’t have to communicate their decision verbally, however. Pointing to a picture, for example, counts as indicating a decision.

An older person with dementia who wants to draw up a Lasting Power of Attorney needs to have mental capacity regarding that decision. If they don’t have mental capacity, family members can only apply to become their deputy.

How to make a Lasting Power of Attorney

Before we discuss how to draw up a Lasting Power of Attorney, it’s important to note that there are actually two types of LPAs. You can create one for:

  • Property and financial affairs, or
  • Health and welfare

The person appointed to make decisions through an LPA is called an attorney. You can appoint multiple attorneys if you like. If you want the same person to be your attorney for property and financial affairs and health and welfare, then you’ll need to apply twice.

Applications for Lasting Power of Attorney

Making a Lasting Power of Attorney is not extremely complicated. An older person needs to:

  1. Use the gov.uk online service to fill in their application
  2. Pay the £82 fee (the online service allows you to make an additional application for a reduced fee if you have a low income or receive particular benefits)
  3. Print the application
  4. Have all relevant people sign it in the correct order
  5. Post it to the Office of the Public Guardian.

What people are involved when you make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Before an older person starts the application to create a Lasting Power of Attorney, they need to identify who will be:

  • Their attorney or attorneys – you can have more than one
  • The certificate provider. This person witnesses when the person creating the LPA is signing it. This person can’t be a family member or one of the attorneys.

The government has created quite extensive guidance on drawing up a Lasting Power of Attorney, which gives further advice.

How to apply to become a deputy

If your older loved one never set up a Lasting Power of Attorney and now has lost mental capacity, you might now be wondering how to get power of attorney for elderly parents with dementia. Unfortunately, UK law doesn’t allow a Lasting Power of Attorney to be created at this point. However, you can still ask the Court of Protection to appoint you as that person’s:

  • Property and financial affairs deputy, or
  • Personal welfare deputy

As with attorneys through an LPA, a person can become one of these types of deputy or both types.

Costs

Applying to become a deputy is significantly more expensive than drawing up an LPA. Costs include:

  • A £371 fee to apply (paid twice if applying to become both kinds of deputy)
  • A £100 assessment fee for a new deputy
  • A yearly fee for the supervision of your performance as a deputy
  • £494 if a court hearing is required

Application to become a personal welfare deputy

You can’t apply online to become a personal welfare deputy. You’ll need to download the forms listed on the gov.uk page about becoming a personal welfare deputy and send them by post to the Court of Protection.

One of these forms requires a professional, such as a GP, to provide their assessment of the person’s capacity to make decisions.

As a part of this process, you’ll need to:

  • Inform the person for whom you’re applying to become a deputy, and give them the form they’ll need to object or share their opinion
  • Tell three people who know the person for whom you’re applying to become a deputy, and give them the form they can use to object or share their opinion
  • Download, complete and print forms called “certificates of service” saying that you’ve taken the above steps regarding notifying people and giving them the opportunity to have their say

This is a basic overview of the process, but be sure to read through the government guidance to ensure you are following each step correctly.

Application to become a property and financial affairs deputy

You can apply online to become a property and financial affairs deputy, or send all applicable forms by post.

There are numerous details involved, so it’s best to read through the government guidance closely. However, put generally, the steps are similar to those for becoming a personal welfare deputy. You need to:

  • Tell the person for whom you’re applying to be a deputy that you are making the application
  • Have them fill out their own acknowledgement form (if they can)
  • Tell 3 people who know the person about your application, and give them the form they can use to object to it
  • Obtain an assessment of capacity from a professional such as a GP
  • Pay application fees
  • Fill out and submit all your forms.

Moving an older person with dementia to a care home

Sometimes, an older person with dementia may need to move to a care home even if that’s against their wishes. This is another context in which family members may wonder how to get power of attorney for elderly parents with dementia. UK law actually says, though, that Lasting Power of Attorney may not be sufficient here, as the older person is being deprived of liberty and being forced to stay somewhere they don’t want to be.

The details of this situation are a little complex, but fortunately we’ve already covered this topic in a previous blog on putting someone in a care home against their will.

How SureSafe helps protect elderly people with dementia

An LPA is good way to safeguard your parent’s finances or welfare as their dementia progresses. Another great step to help protect older loved ones with dementia is obtaining a personal alarm for the elderly. Older people with advanced dementia may lose their physical stability or struggle to tell the difference between a small step and the edge of a carpet, meaning they are at greater risk of falling. Even if a carer is in just the next room, it’s possible they still won’t be aware or hear that a fall has occurred.

A fall detection alarm ensures that if a senior does fall, help will called for automatically. That’s ideal for older people with dementia who may not have the ability to operate devices to call for help, as well as for people who are unconscious when they fall.

Additionally, older people in earlier stages of dementia might benefit from a GPS alarm. This type of alarm tracks the wearer’s location, and it even includes a “geo-fence” function that sends out an alert when the wearer leaves a designated area. That way, if a senior gets slightly disoriented or gets on the wrong bus, family can always quickly track them and ensure they are not alone without help.

If you’re thinking about how to protect an older relative with dementia, why not give us a call on 0800 112 3201? We’d be happy to discuss how our variety of alarms offer different functions that can help seniors in different stages of dementia. Alternatively, you can get in touch via live chat or request a call back.

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