Saturday, 5 June 2010

My chap

Last week I was unexpectedly moved while filling in a complex legal form. An elderly couple had come to see me. She was in the early stages of dementia and he was applying for Lasting Power of Attorney. My rĂ´le was to certify that she understood what this meant, and that she was not being coerced. This job was made harder because her dementia was moderately advanced, and because she was in denial about the diagnosis.

So I asked “if you became very ill and couldn't make decisions about your treatment, would you be happy for your husband to make those decisions for you?” She replied “yes”. I continued “and if your memory got very bad and you could no longer make decisions about your finances or looking after yourself, would you be happy for him to make those for you?” “It's very unlikely” she said, “but yes I would”. “You trust him, then?” I asked. “Oh yes” she replied, “we've been together for...” But her memory failed her, and she could not say how long. She turned to him with a little smile, and reached out for his hand. “He's...” and she paused as she searched for the not-quite-right word, “ chap”.

I signed the form.