Report highlights looming UK incapacity crisis

A recent report warns that the UK is facing an incapacity crisis; with the nation unprepared for end of life.

According to Solicitors for the Elderly and leading think-tank Centre for Future Studies, millions of Britons are leaving vital decisions about their care in the hands of strangers.

The study highlights that a growing number of people are now living with dementia, and warns that, combined with a failure to plan, this will lead to an incapacity crisis. Forewarning that the UK is ‘sleepwalking’ towards a dementia crisis, the latest research reveals that:

·         97% of people have not made arrangements in case they lose capacity from conditions like dementia

·         36% have made no provisions at all for later life (e.g. Wills, pensions, funeral plans and LPAs)

·         73% of people are worried about becoming mentally incapacitated and losing the ability to make decisions for themselves

·         79% have not considered or spoken about personal medical and care end of life decisions

·         63% of people incorrectly believe that their next of kin can specify what they would have wanted if they are no longer able to

·         Only 3% of Britons have a health and welfare LPA in place.

Commenting on the research, Karon Walton, Chief Legal Officer at Solicitors for the Elderly said: “It can be very difficult having conversations with loved ones as to what care and treatment you would prefer, as it may bring up topics that we naturally shy away from. From my own experience, having those conversations with family often reveal very different perspectives than you may have expected. We tend to think that their wishes and values would be the same as our own, however that may not necessarily be the case”.

She added: “Certainly, family dynamics can make these conversations difficult to have, even though husbands, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and other relatives do want to carry out the wishes of their relatives. But how can you really know what their preferences are, if you haven’t had the conversation?”

The report also warned that, while 70% of people would like a family member to make medical and care decisions on their behalf, in reality, without a registered health and welfare LPA such choices are out of their hands.

The research also shows that, while there are currently 12.8 million people over the age of 65 who run the risk of developing dementia, there are only 928,000 Health & Welfare LPAs presently registered with the Office of the Public Guardian across England and Wales. These figures suggest that almost 12 million people at risk of future incapacity haven’t made plans to ensure their wishes are followed. And, based on the predicted increase in dementia, by 2025 there will be 13.2 million people unprepared for the increased risk of incapacity.

Ultimately, the situation is extremely worrying, and SFE has called on people to start conversations and proper planning for end of life or risk having decisions made for them which are contrary to their wishes.

Today's Wills and Probate