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Angela Rippon – a Happy Singleton Putting her Affairs in Order

In advance of the BBC documentary "The Truth About Dementia", Angela Rippon shares her concerns.

Angela Rippon is about to present a BBC documentary entitled The Truth About Dementia. In advance of the documentary being broadcast, she has spoken frankly about her own concerns and what she has done to take responsibility for her future.

Angela has lived a fulfilling life as a happy singleton for some 27 years. Her marriage to her childhood sweetheart ended in divorce in 1989 and she never remarried. Although she does not have children of her own, she has godchildren who are a big part of her life.

Having seen her parents affected by dementia in the latter part of their lives, it is the effect of this condition that has prompted her to take positive action in mid-life to minimise the consequences if it happens to her in later life.  

She is mindful that dementia has now surpassed cancer as the biggest health worry for people aged over 55. Alzheimer’s and dementia affect 850,000 people in Britain today, with a new diagnosis being made every three minutes, so she’s right to take positive action to manage the possible consequences to an acceptable level.  

Although I’m fine,” she says, “I do sometimes worry about my own risk

And the risk she faces is measurable. Aged 71, her risk of developing dementia is a little over 1 in 12. But by her 80th birthday in nine years’ time, her risk will have doubled to 1 in 6.

None of us knows what’s going to happen to us,” she says, “but I can do things like make sure my will is up to date and put things in place

I can talk with my godchildren about the care I might like,” she continues, “At least they won’t have to agonise over what to do with Auntie Ang because Auntie Ang will have told them”.

So, what precise steps will Angela Rippon have taken to manage the consequences of developing dementia in the future?

Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs

If dementia took away Angela’s ability to manage her own affairs, her assets would in effect be frozen. Her assets could only be managed for her if her godchildren applied to the Court of Protection to be appointed her Deputies. Doing this would cost £900 in court fees, plus at least twice as much again in solicitors’ charges, and it’s an arduous and time-consuming process even with professional help.

Angela will have acted in advance to protect herself and her godchildren from this by making a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs.

She will have chosen who she wants to make financial decisions on her behalf – probably her godchildren -  and she will have nominated them as her attorneys.

She and her attorneys will have got together and signed a 20-page document, with Angela confirming who she wants, and her attorneys confirming they are willing to take on the responsibility if the time comes.

An independent professional, such as her solicitor, will have certified that she’s mentally fit and well enough to make this decision.

Her lasting Power of Attorney will have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. Before it was registered, the Public Guardian will have notified a friend or relative of Angela’s, nominated by her, as an additional safeguard.

The whole process will have taken a maximum of three months and will have cost a fraction of the cost of going to the Court of Protection.

With a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs in place, Angela’s godchildren will, when the time comes, have official authorisation to deal with banks and financial institutions, sell or rent out her home if necessary, and efficiently manage her affairs as appropriate without obstacles.

Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare

If, as a result of dementia, Angela could no longer make decisions for herself, then her god-children would not automatically have the power to speak up for her about her care needs or medical treatment, no matter how careful she had been to discuss her preferences with them.

Well-meaning medical and social care professionals would be the only people empowered to decide what would be “in her best interests”. But with the best will in the world, all they could do is make their best guess as to what her wishes and preferences might be. They might be willing to take her godchildren’s views into account, but they wouldn’t be obliged to.

However, with a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare in place, Angela’s godchildren would be placed firmly in the driving seat if the time came, and able to speak up for her and make sure that all her wishes and preferences were respected in full.

Living Will

As an added safeguard, Angela may have made an Advance Directive, or Living Will. This will be a formal document spelling out exactly what Angela will and won’t consent to, and it will be there as a clear record of her wishes and preferences if ever she is no longer able to speak up for herself.

There are no formal restrictions on what a Living will can specify. But, as a starting point, the majority of Living Wills prioritise dignity and comfort. Many people who make a Living Will state that they WILL consent to any treatment that keeps them comfortable and eases their pain, even if doing so might hasten the moment of their death, and they WON’T consent to anything experimental, anything whose risks outweigh the benefits, and anything designed solely to keep them alive artificially.

The Truth About Dementia is aired on BBC One on Thursday 19th May at 9pm. By presenting this programme, Angela Rippon is raising awareness about the condition and encouraging others to take control of their futures.

If you feel ready to follow her example, why not go ahead and complete our contact form, or give us a call on 0151 601 5399 – we’re here to help you take control of your future.

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