Olivia Kennedy: 'Apart from the emotional challenges of dealing with a loved one with dementia there are also reams of practical and financial difficulties'
Olivia Kennedy is a financial planner at Quilter Private Client Advisers. Her late mum suffered from dementia, and she found navigating the social care system a big challenge.
She shares her story and offers practical tips on what is available to dementia sufferers and their carers, and how to persevere and get the best assistance possible for them.
Shocking figures on the rise of dementia are reported regularly these days, but it can be hard to grasp the full reality of it because this is one of those things you think will never happen to you.
My mum was diagnosed with premature dementia in 2002 aged 62 and died in September 2014 aged 75.
It was a long journey often called the long slow goodbye as you lose the person you knew very slowly. While in my case my mum never really stopped knowing us, she did lose her identity and a sense of who she was.
My sister looked after my mum during the day four days a week while already being a single parent with a toddler at home.
Meanwhile, I sorted personal hygiene and weekends - I too was a single parent but my son was much older.
Our step-dad did the overnight care and the daily household stuff. This was a complete change of roles for them as they had been a traditional couple. Mum did all the household chores and home maintenance. Our stepdad couldn’t even change a plug!
None of us realised at the time what toll it took on us as carers – it just slowly got worse and worse. The health of all of us deteriorated and our relationships suffered. I had to date my second husband at my mum’s house at weekends.
Apart from the emotional challenges of dealing with a loved one with dementia there are also reams of practical and financial difficulties.
Many people are aware that the current social care system is means tested so anyone whose assets exceed £23,250 pays for their social care needs. However, what is less well known is the other benefits that are available.
Even as a financial adviser I struggled to navigate the system, but during my mum’s time at home I made sure that I understood the very complex funding rules over home help, day care, and finally residential care.
NHS-funded nursing care: The standard rate currently provides £165.56 per week,