Following on from our first blog in our three part series for Dementia Awareness Week, this blog will look at what I gained from today's Alzheimer Scotland Annual Conference which took place in Edinburgh to mark our last day of Dementia Awareness Week.

Raising awareness

I was fortunate enough to have also attended the annual conference last year as well. What struck me the most was how much progression there has been over the past 12 months in terms of raising awareness about dementia. More and more people are rightfully clocking on to just how serious it can be. Progress is certainly being made as an increasing number of people understand and appreciate the importance of having a power of attorney in place should they lose capacity to make decisions. However, there is still so much more that has to be done. I met a variety of different people at the conference, all spreading their own unique words of wisdom. They shared stories of first hand experiences of assisting close family members who have lost capacity from various medical conditions, such as dementia. I chatted with many carers, family members, friends and other professionals. Despite our different experiences, we all shared a common aim: trying to think of ways to help those who have dementia.

Turning to music

One individual I met at the conference explained the importance of music to me. He mentioned how it can assist people who have dementia bring back memories of perhaps their childhood, a significant family event, or even frivolous, carefree times from the past. He told me how his granddad had greatly benefitted from having a personalised playlist made up of all the songs he grew up listening to. I loved the idea, despite not agreeing with his taste of music! It made me appreciate that simple steps really do go a long way.

Helping individuals and their family

Whilst ensuring powers of attorney are all in order, lawyers do not lose sight of the soft skills required when assisting those that have dementia. We understand how difficult it can be for those individuals to run their home and do the daily chores in ways in which many people take for granted. We also know of their struggles in caring for themselves and remembering to eat proper meals throughout the day. At Brodies, we are always glad to make recommendations for home helps, carers and cleaners. Aside from this, we are also here to provide assistance to family members in any way that we can. We understand that family members of those who have dementia can feel emotionally exhausted and upset. It may feel that every day presents a new challenge. The heartbreak of watching a loved one's health deteriorate is a position that nobody wishes to be in. People often turn to us in their most downbeat times. That is why we are here to help and ultimately to listen.

Appointing people you trust

Elderly individuals who have dementia and live alone can be particularly vulnerable. This can often be very upsetting. From working with clients who have first-hand experience of assisting family members that have dementia, I have learned just how imperative it is to have people around you that you know and trust. A power of attorney allows you to appoint these individuals to assist you before you lose the capacity to turn to them for help. Last year, I wrote of my experience in becoming a 'Dementia Friend' and how simple yet rewarding it can be, and again, I would encourage you, your friends, and your family to do the same. The annual conference really was an excellent day. It left me feeling truly inspired to continue spreading the word of powers of attorney, something which I was relieved to find not only lawyers feel passionately about.