It can be a good idea to think ahead about some of the issues that might impact on your quality of life and independence as you age. Here are some suggestions for subjects you might want to think about and discuss with your family.
Financial and Welfare Decision-making
Some people find themselves in situation where they are unable to make their own decisions. This might be as a result of an accident, or ill-health, such as a major stroke, or dementia. The Mental Capacity Act allows people to plan ahead for a time when they may be unable to make their own decisions (this is usually called lack of capacity).
The Act allows you to appoint someone as a Lasting Power of Attorney. You can choose to appoint someone to make decisions about finances, or about health and welfare decisions, or both they would then be able to step in and make decisions if you were ever unable to make them. Your attorney must make decisions in your best interests, and involve you whenever possible.
Visit the Office of the Public Guardian website for information about LPAs.
There are advantages to planning ahead and setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney. Knowing that you have made plans for future decision-making can be very reassuring. If you do not do this, and you lose capacity to make decisions, it can sometimes cause problems. For example, it can be difficult to make decisions about managing money, or selling a house. A family member might have to apply to the Court of Protection to become a financial deputy, in order to make these decisions.
For more information about deputyship, visit the Office of the Public Guardian website.
If you lose capacity to manage your money, a relative or friend can apply to become an appointee. This would give them the authority to manage income from the Department of Work and Pensions. More information is available on the GOV.UK website. However, this does not give them the power to do things like accessing bank accounts managing or investments.
An advance decision, sometimes known as a living will, enables you to refuse particular types of treatment in future. This can include potentially life-sustaining treatment, such as CPR. You can make decisions, as long as you are mentally capable of doing so. They must be in writing, signed and witnessed. Please see more information on the Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment website.
An advance statement is a written statement setting out your wishes and preferences for the way that care is provided. It is helpful for anyone who might need to make best interest decisions on your behalf, if you lose capacity. The Alzheimer's Society website has more information.
Options for Funding Care
It can be helpful to think about how you might fund any social care that you might require in future. Charging for social care is means-tested. This can be quite a complicated area, and your eligibility for local authority funding will depend on a number of different factors. In addition to this, thresholds for charging will change in April 2016, increasing from the current £23250. If you have savings or assets, you may want to think about how best to make use of them to fund care services.
A good starting point is the Money Advice Service, which offers information, a web chat facility, and telephone advice with information on long-term care funding. Please also see our Financial Information and Advice page for other sources of financial information.
Thinking ahead about housing gives you time to consider all options and what these will mean for your lifestyle. You can look at ways of making your home more suitable and find out about other services which could help you around the home. Please see our Equipment and Looking after your Home pages for more information.
You may want to consider moving. Tyne and Wear Homes provides information on housing in Newcastle, including those which provide care services alongside accommodation. Your Homes Newcastle can also provide advice.
The Elderly Accommodation Council Housing Options for Older People (HOOP) questionnaire could help you decide whether staying put or moving home is the best option for you.
If you decide to move, Information Now provides useful tips to help you think about what you want from your new home.