The UK is ‘sleepwalking’ towards a dementia crisis with millions of people failing to take steps to prepare for losing mental capacity, a solicitors organisation has warned. A report published today by Solicitors for the Elderly warns that around 12 million Britons at high risk of future incapacity have not planned ahead to ensure their wishes are followed by appointing a lasting power of attorney (LPA). This comes against the backdrop of a sharp increase in people being diagnosed, or at risk of being diagnosed, with dementia.

A ‘coalition of partners’, including AgeUK and the Alzheimer’s Society, has been set up and has warned of a forthcoming ‘incapacity crisis’.

The report, published in conjunction with the Centre for Future Studies (CFS), notes that research shows that 12.8 million people over the age of 65 run the risk of developing dementia, yet there are only 928,000 LPAs currently registered. By 2025 around 13.2 million people will be at risk but only 2.2 million LPAs are expected to be in place.

More than one third of people admit to not having made any provisions for later life such as writing a will or creating an LPA.

Lakshmi Turner, chief executive of Solicitors for the Elderly, said: ‘Far too few of us are planning ahead for our health and care needs and wishes, leaving this to chance. It’s time to set the record straight. Planning ahead by talking to family or friends shouldn’t be seen as doom and gloom, it’s about having a positive conversation about welfare, empowering your loved ones and making the decision-making process easier for everyone.’

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, advised getting an LPA set up well in advance. ‘You can specify what decisions you are happy for them to make on your behalf and you can also choose more than one attorney who could be a family member, a friend, spouse, partner or civil partner, or a professional, such as a solicitor,’ she added.

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