Dementia is relevant to Mitchells Roberton for a number of reasons.
- Our firm does a lot of work with adults with incapacity.
- Most of us are all living longer and more and more of us are going to have at some point to deal with someone in our family who has dementia. This often has legal implications.
- The issue of dementia highlights the importance of having a Power of Attorney.
- I personally think that we have to learn to understand the illness more and how individuals can be helped.
According to Alzheimer Scotland, in 2017 an estimated 90,000 people had dementia in Scotland. In Glasgow there were 8116 sufferers. It is a problem that is not going to go away and is only going to get worse.
This week one of my colleagues visited three elderly people in Care Homes to report on whether their state of mental health was such that they could no longer manage their own affairs. None of these adults had any surviving relatives or Powers of Attorney so ultimately it would be up to the court to appoint a suitable financial guardian.
What heartens me is that more is now being done to help dementia sufferers and their carers. An all party parliamentary group has been gathering evidence over the past two years and has come to the unambiguous conclusion that the arts used appropriately by health professionals can help delay the onset of dementia and diminish its severity.
There are projects the length and breadth of the country in theatres, galleries, community centres and care homes. For example there are monthly sessions held at the Royal Academy in London where people who have been art lovers throughout their lives and are still art lovers come together to talk about a particular work led by two practicing artists. In this humanising space people were encouraged to see, feel, remember and express themselves.
There is a great film called “Alive Inside”. It is a documentary which follows social worker Dan Cohen as he fights against a broken health care system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it. There is an emotive example of an old man sitting slumped in a wheelchair. He drools and his eyes are half closed and it is impossible to tell whether he is awake or asleep. Then someone puts earphones on his head and suddenly the music that he loved when he was a strong young man is pouring into him. His toothless mouth splits into a beautiful grin and now he is swaying in his chair. And then this man who doesn’t speak any longer is actually singing.