Ageing Well Without Children (AWWOC) was launched to provide advice and guidance to those who are concerned about growing older without children, whilst also helping with the tasks that become increasingly difficult as we age. Whilst having children is certainly no guarantee that they will be able to (or, in some cases, want to) provide assistance to us, most would assume that as we grow older our children will be there to support us.
It is estimated that nearly a third of people aged 65 or over – 3.6 million people – live alone and that 1 in 10 (approximately 1.2 million) are ageing without children. Also, those living alone aged 90 and over are projected to increase by more than double, to 588,000 between 2016 and 2041.
What Help Is Available for Ageing Well Without Children?
Many of our clients find themselves in the situation of growing older without children and are often concerned about who they can trust to make decisions for them, should they no longer be able to make decisions for themselves.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document that allows you to appoint someone to act as your attorney and effectively manage your property and financial affairs on your behalf, or make decisions about your health and welfare on your behalf. However, we often find that many clients are worried about giving this level of responsibility to a friend or family member.
A professional attorney – such as solicitors, accountants, independent financial advisers, charity employees or will-writers – can help by taking on this responsibility. A common choice is for a solicitor to be appointed, as they are highly regulated and, therefore, will ensure compliance with high professional standards, rules and ethics. It is ultimately up to you who you choose to act, but it’s important that you are confident in the chosen attorney’s ability and knowledge. Looking for a solicitor who is a member of Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) can also be a great place to start.
How Can a Professional Attorney Help?
Keeping your independence – Mr P is an extremely independent person and has made it very clear that he does not want to go into a care home, even though it would be a much safer environment for him as he keeps falling at home. Mr P’s social worker disagrees with him and doubts whether he has the mental capacity to be able to decide where he should live.
A professional attorney could undertake regular capacity assessments to demonstrate that Mr P can make the decision to stay in his own home and could also instruct an independent advocate to support Mr P in communicating with his social worker. This ensures that decisions cannot be made against his will.
Mr P may be safer in a care home, but he has the mental capacity to make his own decisions as to where he should live and, with a professional attorney’s support, this is accepted by his social worker.
Managing bank accounts and paying bills – Mr V lives in his own home with the assistance of a carer who visits twice a day. He lives a simple life but no longer wishes to have the responsibilities of managing his own money and bills. A professional attorney can take over the management of Mr V’s bank accounts and arrange to pay all of his regular bills including his care costs.
A professional attorney can also renew Mr V’s insurance policies on an annual basis and have an annual review with his independent financial advisor to ensure that his investments are performing well.
Regular visits to Mr V would take place to check that he is happy with the arrangements in place.