Dementia and Decision Making: Dementia Action Week 2023

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Aimee Last

Court of Protection Associate Solicitor

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Every year, between, 15 – 21 May, is Dementia Action Week, which is an awareness campaign run by Alzheimer’s Society. During this week, alongside Alzheimer’s Society, we’re helping to raise awareness by encouraging people to ‘act on dementia’. In this article we will cover how dementia affects decision making and memory, and what actions you can take if your loved one is living with dementia.

What is Dementia?

The word 'dementia' is the term for a set of symptoms that can affect memory, problem-solving, language and behaviour. Dementia isn’t a specific disease, but rather one that is an umbrella term for a condition that leads to an impaired ability to think, remember, and make decisions. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

There are many misconceptions about dementia, such as risk factors like age. A lot of people consider dementia to be an ‘old person disease’, this guide will look at exploring and expelling any myths that are associated with this disease.

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How Common Is Dementia?

Dementia is not just part of “getting old”, it’s an illness – and while most cases of dementia are in people over 65, it’s estimated that around 7.5% of people living with dementia in the UK have “young onset dementia”, and people with learning disabilities are at higher risk of developing this.

You may be surprised to know that dementia diagnosis rates have dropped for the first time ever. This doesn’t mean there are fewer people living with dementia – in fact there are 944,000 people in the UK with the disease - but fewer people are seeking a diagnosis. It’s predicted that by 2030, there will be over 1 million people with dementia in the UK.

Signs and Symptoms of Dementia

The symptoms of dementia will vary greatly from person to person, but you can expect people with dementia to experience:

  • Memory problems
  • Communication problems
  • Issues with concentration
  • Lack of problem-solving skills
  • Decreased ability to make judgement
  • Impaired vision

If you’re concerned that someone you know has dementia, there are some signs to look out for.

You may find that this person is starting to get lost in an area that they are very familiar with, such as around their home or favourite places. They may start using unusual or unexpected words to refer to objects. People with dementia may also start forgetting people’s names, even close relatives and friends, as well as forgetting memories.

Some people with dementia may also start talking about old memories and experiences as if they just happened, for example something that happened when they were a teenager. They may even start being less capable of independence, such as not being able to complete simple tasks.

Types of Dementia

As dementia is an umbrella term for various diseases that have similar symptoms, there are a few types of dementia that someone can get diagnosed with.

Alzheimer’s Disease

The most known type of dementia in the UK is Alzheimer’s Disease, as it accounts for 60% to 80% of the overall number of dementia patients. Alzheimer’s causes changes in the brain which is why its most commonly known symptom is not being able to remember or recall events, such as things that happened just a few minutes ago. As the disease worsens, the patient may start having issues with distance memories.

Vascular Dementia

Vascular Dementia is another well-known type of dementia. About 10% of dementia cases are directly linked to brain blood flow and strokes. Other factors to the disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. The symptoms that the patient experiences will vary depending on how much of the brain is affected. But as the disease worsens, the symptoms will also get worse.

Lewy Body Dementia

Patients with Lewy Body Dementia may suffer with the typical memory loss as other dementia patients. But in addition to this they may also experience balance and movement problems such as trembling. A lot of patients with this type of dementia will experience sudden changes in their alertness, for example they may feel more tired in the day but awake more during the night. They may also start getting more confused and have spells where their confusion is worse, as well as times when they appear to stare into the distance. Visual hallucinations are also a well-known symptom of this type, which can include seeing people, shapes, or objects that aren’t really there.

Struggling to Get Diagnosed with Dementia

According to research done by Alzheimer’s Society, people with dementia face key barriers to diagnosis such as:

  • The misconception that memory loss is ‘just part of getting old’;
  • People with dementia being in denial of their symptoms, or perhaps feeling ashamed;
  • Waiting times for dementia diagnosis – shockingly, with the current post-Covid NHS backlog, some people are facing a two year wait for diagnosis.

Seeking a dementia diagnosis and experiencing the symptoms can be challenging alone, but it’s also an important time to think about the future. Our Court of Protection lawyers have helped many families with loved ones living with dementia, as it can be hard to know how to make decisions in their best interests. The Court of Protection is a court that deals with actions or decisions taken under the Mental Capacity Act. It’s very important to get specialist legal advice if you have a family member or loved one who lacks capacity to make important decisions for themselves.

What Causes Dementia?

There are a few factors that can play a role in increasing your risk of developing dementia. While it cannot be predicted or prevented, there are some factors to be aware of.

Your family history plays a part in whether you may develop dementia. If your parent or siblings have dementia, you are far more likely to develop dementia. Additionally, your race and ethnicity can also be a risk.

Just as your family history can lead to dementia, so can your own poor health. If you suffer with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or you smoke, you can be at higher risk of dementia if you don’t get the proper treatment.

Unsurprisingly, a traumatic head injury can also lead to an increased risk of developing dementia. If you suffer more than one head injury, your risk will increase further.

Decision Making and Dementia

Dementia is progressive, which sadly means that the symptoms get worse over time. Dementia can cause mood swings, irritability and changes in someone’s behaviour. These symptoms can fluctuate, particularly in the early stages of the disease – it can be very confusing for people suffering to feel that they’re able to make decisions at one point in time, only to experience memory loss soon after.

If you or your family member are in the early stages of dementia, we’d recommend you arrange a Lasting Power of Attorney at your earliest possible opportunity so that your wishes can be reflected in the best way by someone you trust going forward.

However, if the person with dementia sadly already lacks the capacity to make decisions, we can help you to arrange a deputyship if you do not have a Power of Attorney in place already. A deputy is someone that makes legal decisions on a person’s behalf. Depending on the situation, this could be:

  • A spouse or partner;
  • A close relative;
  • A local authority;
  • A professional deputy, such as a solicitor.

If you have a loved one or family member who lacks capacity, our specialist Court of Protection Solicitors can advise you about:

  • Applying to become a Deputy yourself;
  • Challenging someone else’s position as a Deputy;
  • Appointing a professional Deputy.

How Our Court of Protection Lawyers Help Family Members of Those With Dementia

We have a dedicated Court of Protection team here at Simpson Millar, who help people who have loved ones living with dementia with health and welfare issues, including:

  • Advice about advocates and representatives in the Court of Protection;
  • Identifying whether the person with dementia has the capacity to make a particular decision, or whether something is in their best interests;
  • Challenging a person’s Deprivation of Liberty;
  • Decisions about the person’s will, finances, property, care needs or medical arrangements;

The law can be confusing at the best of times, and dementia as a disease can be complex, but our Court of Protection team here at Simpson Millar have years of experience and we’re here to listen so we can act in the best interests of your loved one with dementia. We make it our priority to speak to you in plain English so you always know your options, and where you stand.

Get in touch, today!

Fill in the form below to get in touch with one of our dedicated team members, or call our team today on 0808 239 9764


NHS (2023). What is dementia. [online] Available at:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). What is dementia? [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at:

Aimee Last

Court of Protection Associate Solicitor

Areas of Expertise:
Court of Protection

Aimee is a Solicitor specialising in Court of Protection disputed welfare decisions and is based in our Lancaster office. She joined Simpson Millar in July 2015 as a Paralegal in our Education Law team before successfully completing her training contract with us and qualified as a Solicitor in May 2019.

Get in touch, today!

Fill in the form below to get in touch with one of our dedicated team members, or call our team today on: 0808 239 9764

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