‘Dementia Aware…what you need to know’ about financial, legal & health care planning
In B.C., approximately 70,000 people have dementia, and sadly, this number will only continue to grow as the proportion of seniors in B.C. population increases over the next 10 to 15 years. Here in the Okanagan, we have one of the largest ageing/dementia populations in B.C.
Dementia is an umbrella term to include many different conditions which cause problems with thinking, memory and problem solving (cognitive impairment). There are over 100 types of dementia, the most common types are Alzheimer’s disease (64% of Canadians), followed by vascular dementia (20%), Lewy body dementia including Parkinson’s disease with dementia (5-15%), frontotemporal dementia (2-5%), mixed dementia and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
What you need to know….
Although these types of dementia cause damage to different areas of the brain, they share many symptoms which are characteristic of dementia, regardless of cause, including progressive memory loss, increasing impaired reasoning and decision making, difficulty with communication, and increasing difficulty making financial, legal and health care decisions.
Finding out you have dementia can be a very upsetting and frightening time for the person with dementia, caregiver and family. As your health changes, and your dementia progresses, there may be a time when you are no longer able to make specific decisions about your care. Therefore, it is very important that talk with your caregiver (and family) about your wishes so that they may act in your best interests. Personal planning lets you make your own legally enforceable decisions with people you trust, and prevents the Government and others becoming involved in your personal and private affairs. The sooner you make decisions about your health care, your finances and your estate, the more in control you will feel and the better prepared you are for the future.
What you need to know…
- You should have a will prepared by a Lawyer or Notary
- You should have filed your current income tax return
- You should set up an enduring Power of Attorney to manage your financial and legal affairs. This will help avoid having the court appoint another person to manage your affairs
- You should set up a Representation Agreement to manage your personal care and health care decisions
- You should complete an Advance Directive which is a written summary of your wishes and instructions for future health care. This is very important, as it will guide your caregiver and health care team to plan care based on your wishes
- For free assistance completing tax returns, see www.cra-arc.gc.ca/volunteer
- For free legal advice about making a will, contact DIAL–A-LAW Library at 1-800-663-1919
- To find a Lawyer or Notary in your area, try the Yellow Pages or notaries.bc.ca; or www.lawsociety.bc.ca
- For further information on Power of Attorney, Representation Agreements and Advance Care Planning see nidus.ca