Planning for the future

Advice and practical tips for people with dementia who live alone on planning for the future. 

When you have a diagnosis of dementia, it is important to plan for the future. This could be the type of care you want, or where you want to live if you can no longer live alone. This can be more important when you live alone because you may not have someone who knows what you want and what your preferences are.

You may want to start thinking about what your wishes are and recording them, when you feel ready. Think especially about who you can share this information with. 

Things to think about

  • Lasting power of attorney (LPA) and Enduring power of attorney (EPA) – these give someone you choose the power to make decisions on your behalf, if you can no longer make them yourself. You can have an LPA for health and welfare (which covers decisions about care and treatment, including where you live) or for property and affairs (which covers decisions about finances and selling a house on your behalf) or both. In Northern Ireland, the EPA system only covers property and financial affairs.
  • Advance decision (or advance directive in Northern Ireland) – this records your decisions about future medical care. It is a legal document that allows you to refuse, in advance, specific medical treatments or procedures – for example, whether to be resuscitated if your heart stops. It can’t be used to refuse basic care.
  • Advance statement – this records your likes and dislikes, and your priorities and preferences for the future. For example, where you would like to be cared for or day-to-day things you like to do, such as having a bath instead of a shower. It is not legally binding, but can help people to know what you want if you cannot decide these things for yourself.

For more information see Planning ahead.

When you can no longer live alone

There may come a time when you need more support and are no longer able to manage at home on your own. It can be hard to know when this point has come.

You may struggle more than you used to with day-to-day tasks like cooking or washing, or you may not feel safe in your own home anymore. You may find it harder to get out and about and this may mean you feel increasingly isolated and lonely. If this is the case, it’s probably time to think about moving.

It might be hard to accept that you can no longer live alone. You may have done so for a long time, and you may be worried about losing your independence. It’s important that you’re honest with yourself. If you are struggling living on your own, or in your own home, you may want to move to somewhere you can get the support you need.

You won’t necessarily have to move into a nursing or care home if you can no longer live alone. There are a range of housing options that you could consider. Some of these will give you more independence than others, depending on the amount of support you need.

  • Sheltered housing – these are self-contained flats. They may have a warden and a 24-hour emergency alarm system, and some may have communal facilities. The level of support will vary depending on the scheme. Sheltered housing schemes usually expect residents to have a certain level of independence.
  • Extra care housing – this is similar to sheltered accommodation but it provides extra support, such as assistance with personal care, meals, domestic support, and community activities.
  • Shared lives – this is a scheme where someone who needs care and support moves in with, or is supported by, an approved Shared Lives carer.
  • Care homes – these are either registered as residential care homes (providing support and assistance with personal care) or nursing homes (providing nursing care as well). The type of home that will be most suitable will depend on your needs. It can help to talk to someone you trust about options and what you would like to happen in the future. For more information on housing options contact the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (see ‘Other resources’).
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