Have you noticed signs of confusion or forgetfulness in an older friend or relation? 
You might find their slippers in the oven or forgotten bills in the bread bin. 
These small lapses could be due to worries or a short-term illness, but they could also suggest that it’s time to take some important steps. 
Early signs 
The sooner you take action, having noticed some possible early symptoms of dementia, the better. A doctor can recommend treatment and give advice about help and support. 
The Alzheimer’s Society says the right time to have a conversation with your loved one is when you can see that changes are starting to affect their quality of their life. 
A careful driver might have an accident, for example, or small incidents at home, such as leaving the cooker turned on, could suggest that some professional help is needed. 
Diagnosing dementia 
In many cases, your loved one will have already noticed some changes. A quiet conversation, ideally when their doctor’s surgery is open, will allow you to make an appointment there and then, if they agree some advice is needed. If they are happy for you to join them when they go to see their doctor, it will be helpful to hear what they have to say 
If they don’t want to see their doctor you can raise your concerns, but the doctor won’t be able to discuss their patient with you. 
Your loved one might be worried about a possible diagnosis of dementia, but the assessment process is their route to help and support. To give them confidence, it’s important to listen to their concerns and help them take control. 
Taking steps 
A diagnosis of dementia doesn’t mean that someone has lost capacity to make decisions. 
However, it does mean that they should give some thought to what they would like to happen if they can’t make decisions at a later date. Ideally, they should think about the arrangements they want to put in place and who they would like to act on their behalf. 
These are the first steps towards arranging Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) for their financial affairs and their care. 
The process can take several months to complete, but it will be a comfort to your loved one to know that their wishes are properly recorded and registered, and that people will know what to do, if needed. 
It’s also important to talk about a Will while they have ‘testamentary capacity’. This is the legal term used to describe someone’s ability to make or alter a valid Will. If it’s lacking at the time a Will is executed, it will be invalid. 
It will be a comfort to know that friends and relations will benefit from their estate as they would wish and provision for pets, gifts and funeral arrangements can all be included. 
So, don’t wait for dementia to be diagnosed. If you notice signs that your friend or relation is struggling it’s a good time to talk with them about their wishes and to put everything in place, so that they can have peace of mind. 
Please get in touch if you would like a confidential discussion. 
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