Legal experts issue warning over UK dementia explosion

One of the region’s leading law firms has called on families to ‘have an uncomfortable chat’ to safeguard family finances.

Francesca Harwood, an expert in law for the elderly at QualitySolicitors Mander Cruickshank, said growing cases of people with dementia meant financial exploitation is a problem.

“It is a worrying trend, which is both avoidable and in need of placing under the spotlight,” said Ms Harwood.

“According to figures released by the Alzheimers Society currently we have 800,000 with dementia in Britain and by 2021 this will be over a million, which will open the possibility of more people being prone to abuse,” she said.

She said the charity has warned the problem with financial abuse of those suffering with dementia is now a noted problem with 15 per cent of social care professionals saying they know of clients who have been abused, whilst 62 per cent of them say their loved one has been targeted by unsolicited calls or questionable sales people, added Ms Harwood.

Ms Harwood, whose firm have offices in both Coalville and Hinckley, said many people were oblivious of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which will allow people to manage money on behalf of loved ones under a contract known as lasting power of attorney agreements.

“A lasting power of attorney allows another person to make decisions where a person has lost mental capacity, but they can only be set up when the person is still able to make decisions for themselves,” she said.

“It means families will have to have an uncomfortable chat, but it is necessary to safeguard an increasing number of people,” she added.

Currently according to research by the Alzheimers Society only 44 per cent of people with dementia in the UK are ever diagnosed.

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