Are you getting all of the financial help and support you’re entitled to? Is your loved one having regular health checks? These and more essential facts for dementia carers are explained here…
Monitoring the general health of the person with dementia is important, as it can help to prevent urinary infections and other health issues that, if left untreated, may result in a hospital stay. Take the person to their GP every six months and get their blood pressure checked (especially important if they have vascular dementia) and make sure they have regular health checks. The person’s medication should also be reviewed regularly. They may need different medication or a stronger dose of what they are currently taking.
A person with dementia has a legal obligation to let the DVLA know about their diagnosis, otherwise they could be fined £1000. They may not need to give up driving straight away. To inform the DVLA, they will need to download and complete a form called CG1, a four-page questionnaire from the DVLA’s website. If they have been diagnosed with Dementia with Lewy bodies, they will need to fill in a B1 form. Visit https://www.gov.uk/dementia-and-driving
You may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance if you care for your loved one for 35 or more hours per week, provided they are in receipt of certain benefits such as Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance. At the time of writing, this is £64.40 and you don’t have to be related to or even live with the person you care for. This is paid weekly or every four weeks directly into your bank account. For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance/eligibility
You may also be able to apply for Attendance Allowance if the person is over 65 (called Personal Independence Payment if they are younger) and NHS Continuing Healthcare. There are currently two rates – a lower rate of almost £58 per week or a higher rate of nearly £86 per week to help with personal support. Visit https://www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance
As a carer, you have a legal right to ask your employer for flexible working hours. It doesn’t matter what level of care you are providing for a loved one. It can be visiting them for two hours on a weekend to make sure they are OK or visiting them every day. If you are providing care, then you can request flexibility. Your employer is not obliged to agree, but they have to consider your request and if they refuse, they must give a specific reason for refusing.
It’s hugely important to organise Lasting Power of Attorney for a person with dementia. There are two types: Property & Finance and Health & Welfare. You may still be able to obtain Lasting Power of Attorney if the person already has a dementia diagnosis, provided a solicitor is satisfied that the person understands what they are signing. Even if they forget signing the documentation the next day, so long as they understood the relevance and importance of what they were signing at that moment in time then it’s fine.
If you are caring for a person in the later stages of dementia and they need to go into a home, you won’t be able to enforce this if you don’t have Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare. Even if you think this is the safest option for them, if they refuse, you can’t do anything about it.
A person with dementia can get a reduction on their council tax if they are still living at home, so notify their local authority of their diagnosis straight away.