Tessa Till: Scotland faces dementia time bomb

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TESSA TILL explores the implications of Scotland’s rising dementia rates.

The latest figures released by Alzheimer’s Research, stating that a third of babies born this year will develop dementia in their lifetime, present a dementia time bomb for the nation for which we must prepare.

As a society, we need to face up to this ticking time bomb and address how we manage our ageing population.

At present, there are an estimated 86,000 people living with dementia in Scotland. In as little as 20 years this number is expected to almost double and by the time the newest generation reaches older age the condition will be even more prevalent.

Dementia is a horrible disease which affects not only the sufferer but their friends and family. While medical research is constantly being developed to manage the illness, it is a distressing condition that currently cannot be halted or cured. The number of sufferers is already at a record high and reports suggesting these numbers are going to soar, with today’s babies facing a one in three chance of developing dementia, that’s a truly shocking statistic that cannot be ignored.

Many people in middle age are already having to deal with the legal and financial implications of older age for their parents. The current older generation may not have been so prepared to live to such advanced years and therefore don’t have in place adequate legal and financial provisions. Dealing with these matters, once issues such as dementia are already a factor, makes the whole process far more difficult to manage. For that reason, younger people are increasingly keen to ensure their children don’t have the same problems to deal with in a generation’s time.

My team works with clients throughout Edinburgh and Fife helping to plan for older age through appointing Powers of Attorney and Guardianship, drafting Wills and offering guidance and support on care options. And demand for such services relating to support for older people is on the up.

Figures earlier this year indicated the number of Powers of Attorney being granted in Scotland has risen by 18 per cent and more and more families are having to find the most efficient ways to fund long-term care whether at home, in sheltered housing or in a care home.

Alzheimer’s Research is encouraging people to manage their lifestyles from an early age as strong physical and mental health can delay the onset and allow people to live more fulfilled lives for longer.

As a society, we need to face up to this ticking time bomb and address how we manage our ageing population. As individuals, we need to take responsibility now for anticipating our later years and be prepared should we develop dementia.

Tessa Till is partner at legal specialists Pagan Osborne.