Spotlight on dementia is a timely reminder for estate planning

Date: Aug 05, 2014

This year Alzheimer's Australia Dementia Awareness month coincides with the National Missing Persons Week, ensuring dementia gets plenty of attention across the country. 

National Missing Persons Week (August 4-11) will this year focus on elderly people and individuals who go missing due to memory loss. It is a joint initiative between Alzheimer's Australia and the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre (NMPCC).

In an Australian Federal Police (AFP) August 4 press release it was reported that an estimated 35,000 people are reported missing to the police annually. For every person that goes missing there is a resounding impact on the community, whether it be physically, psychologically, emotionally or physically. 

Alzheimer's Australia have a Safely Home program to improve the safety of people with dementia, Alzheimer's Australia National Ambassador Ita Buttrose explained in the press release. Safely Home provides bracelets with a toll free telephone number and a personal identification number to assist those living with dementia and ensure they get home safely.

"Safely home programs are just one way that enables people living with dementia to remain living at home for longer. It provides peace of mind in the instance that if someone does go missing, there is a way for them to be easily identified," Ms Buttrose stated.

Dementia in Australia and estate planning

According to Alzheimer's Australia more than 322,000 Australians live with dementia and approximately one person is diagnosed with the condition every six minutes. It affects people across the age spectrum. For instance, younger onset dementia covers people diagnosed with the condition who are aged between 30 and 65 and affects 24,700 Australians.

Dementia is on average noticed by the families of the person concerned three years before there is a diagnosis. Alzheimer's Australia state that estate planning for people with early onset dementia can help manage future legal, financial and lifestyle affairs. 

Early onset dementia can affect people's employment situation, which makes financial planning a key consideration in estate planning. Symptoms affect people differently however a comprehensive estate plan can help a person with early onset dementia act as independently as possible. 

Alzheimer's Australia outline some ways to plan ahead such as talking about future financial affairs with an expert, arrange an Enduring Power of Attorney and set up access arrangements to finances for the person with early onset dementia. For future medical treatment it is important to establish an advanced care directive and an enduring guardian. 

If you or a loved one is affected by dementia estate planning is important to ensure their interests are protected.