What is Mental Capacity?
If someone has capacity, it means they have the ability to make and communicate their own decisions.
Under the Mental Capacity Act, a person may lack capacity if they can’t understand, remember and use information given to them about a specific decision or communicate their decision.
What can cause a loss of Mental Capacity?
People can lose capacity in different ways and it’s not always permanent.
It can be because of:
- A condition developed in later life, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia
- A learning disability such as autism
- A serious accident that has left them with a brain injury
- A mental health condition such as depression or schizophrenia
- Substance or alcohol abuse
Some of the above conditions can be temporary, and it’s not always black and white what decisions individuals can and can’t make. Some people may only struggle to make decisions about certain things, while others are unable to make any at all.
This is why it can be difficult to know whether your loved one has in fact lost capacity.
Capacity can change over time and it’s not always the case that you loved one is unable to make any decision at all. You should still encourage and support them to make their own decisions where you can.
For example, you could try using different methods of communication, or communicating at different times of the day when your loved one may be at their best.
If you’re worried about a loved one’s capacity, you can get them assessed by a medical professional such as their GP for a diagnosis.
Our Court of Protection Solicitors are also happy to talk to you about your individual situation, and offer expert advice and support.