Managing loss of mental capacity
Whether you want to help someone who’s near to the end of their life with everyday living, or you want to find out about the ways you can plan for your own end-of-life care, here’s a few solutions to keep in mind.
What is mental capacity?
First of all, mental capacity is the ability to make decisions that affect day-to-day living. Someone is unable to make a decision if they can’t do any one of the following:
- Understand information regarding a decision
- Make a decision off of retaining that information
- Communicate a decision
It may also mean that the person struggles with the responsibilities of filling in forms, calling banks or simply keeping up with paying bills.
At some point, you or someone you know might be unable to make or communicate a decision about medical treatment. This usually extends to other areas of life, such as financial planning and general upkeep.
Pay for utilities by direct debit
By arranging for the person’s bills to be paid automatically, you’ll be safe in the knowledge they’ll definitely be paid. This will reduce the risk of the person being penalised for late payments.
Arrange an appointee
Applying to be someone’s appointee allows you to receive the person’s benefits – such as State Pension, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance – and to use the money for what they need on their behalf.
Only 1 appointee is allowed to act on behalf of someone receiving benefits. This can be an individual, solicitor or local council.
To apply to become an appointee, head to the GOV UK website and a list of helplines for individual benefits will point you in the right direction. Once the DWP receives the application, you’ll need to attend an interview. After you get sent an approved Form BF57, you’ll be an appointee.
Arrange a third-party mandate
You can’t usually walk into a bank and get access to someone else’s account, regardless of the circumstances. By applying for a third-party mandate, you can be granted access so long as the person is still able to make the decision as to what you can and can’t do with their money.
To arrange third-party access to a bank account, you will need to approach the bank you use.
Lasting Power of Attorney
This allows one or two nominated people to make decisions on someone else’s behalf, when they can no longer make those decisions themselves. This could be in the event of dementia, mental illness or unconsciousness (as in the case of brain damage, for example).
These decisions can be both medical and financial; the person may want their niece who’s a solicitor to be in charge of their money, or their son who’s a nurse to make decisions on their behalf in healthcare matters.
There are 2 types of Power of Attorney: for health and welfare; and property and financial affairs. You can choose to make one type or both.
To arrange Power of Attorney, head to the GOV UK website where you can download a form and register them with the Office of Public Guardian. This can take up to 10 weeks, and costs £82.
Make an Advance Decision
Also known as a ‘Living Will’, an advance decision lets someone state whether that individual would like to refuse treatment in the case of terminal illness or at the end of life, such as life support and pain management. It’s a good way for someone to outline their wishes for end of life.
To make an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment, you need to get it down in writing then have it signed and witnessed. An advance decision is legally binding, so long as it meets the legal requirements of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Before you make one, you should discuss it with a healthcare professional.
Find out more
A reduced capacity to deal with day-to-day tasks can be a huge change. Thinking about the options and planning ahead can help get your head around how to cope with it, if the time comes.
Marie Curie have a lot of helpful information on their website regarding terminal illness
At DEATH.io we have a lot of articles to help plan for the end of life:
How to cope financially when you’ve received a diagnosis
A look at palliative care, what it means and how you can get support
What kind of support can you get from hospice care?